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by  the  same  author 


by  Ernst  Troehsch 








Tutor  in  Economics,  Harvard  University 

WITH     A     FOREWORD     BY 

R.    H.    TAWNEY 






This  book  is  copyright  under  the  Berne  Convention 

No  portion  of  it  may  be  reprodttced  by 
any  process  without  written  permission. 
Inquiries   to   be  addressed  to   the  publisher 


CONTENTS        ^^c, 

Translator's  Preface  jl.  j  \N  3  L.         j^ 

Foreword  C  C  P  ,   ^  i 

Author's  Introduction  13 




I.    Religious  Affiliation  and  Social  Stratification  35 

II.  The  Spirit  of  Capitalism  47 

III.  Luther's  Conception  of  the  Calling.  Task  of  the 

Investigation  79 



IV.  The  Religious  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism  95 

A.  Calvinism  98 

B.  Pietism  128 

C.  Methodism  139 

D.  The  Baptist  Sects  144 

V.    Asceticism  and  the  Spirit  of  Capitalism  155 

Notes  185 

Index  285 



Max  Weber's  essay,  Die  protestantische  Ethik  und  der 
Geist  des  Kapitalismus,  which  is  here  translated,  was 
first  pubHshed  in  the  Archil  für  Sozialwissenschaft  und 
Sozialpolitik^  Volumes  XX  and  XXI,  for  1904-5.  It 
was  reprinted  in  1920  as  the  first  study  in  the  ambitious 
series  Gesammelte  Aufsätze  zur  Religionssoziologie, 
which  was  left  unfinished  by  Weber's  untimely  death 
in  that  same  year.  For  the  new  printing  he  made 
considerable  changes,  and  appended  both  new  material 
and  replies  to  criticism  in  footnotes.  The  translation 
has,  however,  been  made  directly  from  this  last  edition. 
Though  the  volume  of  footnotes  is  excessively  large, 
so  as  to  form  a  serious  detriment  to  the  reader's 
enjoyment,  it  has  not  seemed  advisable  either  to  omit 
any  of  them  or  to  attempt  to  incorporate  them  into 
the  text.  As  it  stands  it  shows  most  plainly  how  the 
problem  has  grown  in  Weber's  own  mind,  and  it 
would  be  a  pity  to  destroy  that  for  the  sake  of  artistic 
perfection.  A  careful  perusal  of  the  notes  is,  however, 
especially  recommended  to  the  reader,  since  a  great 
deal  of  important  material  is  contained  in  them.  The 
fact  that  they  are  printed  separately  from  the  main  text 
should  not  be  allowed  to  hinder  their  use.  The 
translation  is,  as  far  as  is  possible,  faithful  to  the  text, 
rather  than  attempting  to  achieve  any  more  than 
ordinary,  clear  EngHsh  style.  Nothing  has  been  altered, 
and  only  a  few  comments  to  clarify  obscure  points  and 
to  refer  the  reader  to  related  parts  of  Weber's  work 
have  been  added. 
The  Introduction,  which  is  placed  before  the  main 

R  ix 

The    Protestant    Ethic    and   the    Spirit    of   Capitalism 

essay,  was  written  by  Weber  in  1920  for  the  whole  series 
on  the  Sociology  of  Religion.  It  has  been  included  in 
this  translation  because  it  gives  some  of  the  general 
background  of  ideas  and  problems  into  which  Weber 
himself  meant  this  particular  study  to  fit.  That  has 
seemed  particularly  desirable  since,  in  the  voluminous 
discussion  w4iich  has  grown  up  in  Germany  around 
Weber's  essay,  a  great  deal  of  misplaced  criticism  has 
been  due  to  the  failure  properly  to  appreciate  the  scope 
and  limitations  of  the  study.  While  it  is  impossible 
to  appreciate  that  fully  without  a  thorough  study  of 
Weber's  sociological  work  as  a  whole,  this  brief  intro- 
duction should  suffice  to  prevent  a  great  deal  of 

The  series  of  which  this  essay  forms  a  part  was,  as 
has  been  said,  left  unfinished  at  Weber's  death.  The 
first  volume  only  had  been  prepared  for  the  press  by 
his  own  hand.  Besides  the  parts  translated  here,  it 
contains  a  short,  closely  related  study,  Die  pro- 
testantischen Sekten  und  der  Geist  des  Kapitalismus',  a 
general  introduction  to  the  further  studies  of  particular 
religions  which  as  a  whole  he  called  Die  Wirtschafts- 
ethik  der  Weltreligionen ;  and  a  long  study  of  Confucian- 
ism and  Taoism.  The  second  and  third  volumes,  which 
were  published  after  his  death,  without  the  thorough 
revision  which  he  had  contemplated,  contain  studies 
of  Hinduism  and  Buddhism  and  Ancient  Judaism. 
In  addition  he  had  done  work  on  other  studies,  notably 
of  Islam,  Early  Christianity,  and  Talmudic  Judaism, 
which  were  not  yet  in  a  condition  fit  for  publication 
in  any  form.  Nevertheless,  enough  of  the  whole  series 
has  been  preserved  to  show  something  of  the  extra- 

Translator's  Preface 

ordinary  breadth  and  depth  of  Weber's  grasp  of 
cultural  problems.  What  is  here  presented  to  English- 
speaking  readers  is  only  a  fragment,  but  it  is  a  fragment 
which  is  in  many  ways  of  central  significance  for 
Weber's  philosophy  of  history,  as  well  as  being  of  very 
great  and  very  general  interest  for  the  thesis  it  advances 
to  explain  some  of  the  most  important  aspects  of 
modern  culture. 


Cambridge,  Mass.,  U.S.A. 
January  1930 



Max  Weber,  the  author  of  the  work  translated  in  the 
following    pages,    was    a    scholar    whose    intellectual 
range  was  unusually  wide,  and  whose  personality  made 
an  even  deeper  impression  than  his  learning  on  those 
privileged  to  know  him.  He  had  been  trained  as  a 
jurist,   and,    in   addition  to   teaching  as   a   professor 
at  Freiburg,  Heidelberg,  and  Munich,  he  wrote  on 
subjects  so  various  as  ancient  agrarian  history,  the 
conditions   of  the   rural   population   of  Prussia,   the 
methodology  of  the  social  sciences,  and  the  sociology 
of  religion.  Nor  were  his  activities  exclusively  those 
of  the  teacher  and  the  student.  He  travelled  widely, 
was  keenly  interested  in  contemporary  political  and 
social  movements,  played  a  vigorous  and  disinterested 
part  in  the  crisis  which  confronted  Germany  at  the 
close    of   the    War,    and    accompanied    the    German 
delegation   to   Versailles   in   May    1919.   He   died   in 
Munich  in  the  following  year,  at  the  age  of  fifty-six. 
Partly  as  a  result  of  prolonged  ill-health,  which  com- 
pelled him  for  several  years  to  lead  the  life  of  an  invalid, 
partly  because  of  his  premature  death,  partly,  perhaps, 
because  of  the  very  grandeur  of  the  scale  on  which  he 
worked,  he  was  unable  to  give  the  final  revision  to 
many  of  his  writings.  His  collected  works  have  been 
published  posthumously.  The  last  of  them,  based  on 
notes  taken  by  his  students  from  lectures  given  at 
Munich,  has  appeared  in  English  under  the  title  of 
General  Economic  History} 

'  Max  Weber,  General  Economic  History,  trans.  Frank  H.  Knight, 
Ph.D.  (George  Allen  &  Unwin).  A  bibliography  of  Weber's  writings  is 


The    Protestant   Ethic   and  the   Spirit  of  Capitalism 

f  The  Protestant  Ethic  and  the  Spirit  of  Capitalism  was 
published  in  the  form  of  two  articles  in  the  Archiv  für 
Sozialwissenschaft  und  Sozialpolitik  in  1904  and  1905.) 
Together  with  a  subsequent  article,  which  appeared 
in  1906,  on  The  Protestant  Sects  and  the  Spirit  of 
Capitalism^  they  form  the  first  of  the  studies  contained 
in  Weber's  Gesammelte  Aufsätze  zur  Religionssoziologie. 
On  their  first  appearance  they  aroused  an  interest  which 
extended  beyond  the  ranks  of  historical  specialists,  and 
which  caused  the  numbers  of  the  Archiv  in  which  they 
were  published  to  be  sold  out  with  a  rapidity  not  very 
usual  in  the  case  of  learned  publications.  The  discussion 
which  they  provoked  has  continued  since  then  with 
undiminished  vigour.  For  the  questions  raised  by 
Weber  possess  a  universal  significance,  and  the  method 
of  his  essay  was  as  important  as  its  conclusions.  It  not 
only  threw  a  brilliant  light  on  the  particular  field  which 
it  explored,  but  suggested  a  new  avenue  of  approach  to 
a  range  of  problems  of  permanent  interest,  which 
concern,  not  merely  the  historian  and  the  economist, 
but  all  who  reflect  on  the  deeper  issues  of  modern 

The  question  which  Weber  attempts  to  answer  is 
simple  and  fundamental.  It  is  that  of  the  psychological 
conditions  which  made  possible  the  development  of 
capitalist  civilization.  Capitalism,  in  the  sense  of  great 
individual  undertakings,  involving  the  control  of  large 
financial  resources,  and  yielding  riches  to  their  masters 

printed  at  the  end  of  the  charming  and  instructive  account  of  him 
by  his  widow,  Max  Weber,  Ein  Lebensbild,  von  Marianna  Weber 
(J.  C.  B.  Mohr,  Tübingen,  1926),  See  also  tlconomistes  et  Historiens: 
Max  Weber,  un  komme,  une  ceuvre,  pqr  Maurice  Halbwachs,  in 
Annales  d'Histoire  ^conomique  et  Sociale,  No.  i,  January,  1929. 



as  a  result  of  speculation,  money-lending,  commercial 
enterprise,  buccaneering  and  war,  is  as  old  as  history. 
Capitalism,  as  an  economic  system,  resting  on  the  V^cxUr 
organisation  of  legally  free  wage-earners,  for  the  purpose 
of  pecuniary  profit,  by  the  owner  of  capital  or  his  agents, 
and  setting  its  stamp  on  every  aspect  of  society,  is  a 
modern  phenomenon. 

All  revolutions  are  declared  to  be  natural  and 
inevitable,  once  they  are  successful,  and  capitalism,  as 
the  type  of  economic  system  prevailing  in  Western 
Europe  and  America,  is  clothed  to-day  with  the 
unquestioned  respectability  of  the  triumphant  fact. 
But  in  its  youth  it  was  a  pretender,  and  it  was  only 
after  centuries  of  struggle  that  its  title  was  established-» 
For  it  involved  a  code  of  economic  conduct  and 
a  system  of  human  relations  which  were  sharply 
at  variance  with  venerable  conventions,  with  the 
accepted  scheme  of  social  ethics,  and  with  the  law, 
both  of  the  church  and  of  most  European  states.  So 
questionable  an  innovation  demanded  of  the  pioneers 
who  first  experimented  with  it  as  much  originality, 
self-confidence,  and  tenacity  of  purpose  as  is  required 
to-day  of  those  who  would  break  from  the  net  that  it 
has  woven.  What  influence  nerved  them  to  defy 
tradition?  From  what  source  did  they  derive  the 
-^principles  to  repKce  it  ?  "  '^  i 

The  conventional  answer  to  these  questions  is  to 
deny  their  premises.  The  rise  of  new  forms  of  economic 
enterprise  was  the  result,  it  is  argued,  of  changes  in 
•  the  character  of  the  economic  environment.  It  was  due 
to  the  influx  of  the  precious  metals  from  America  in 
the  sixteenth  century,  to  the  capital  accumulated  in 

*  1(C) 

The  Protestant  Ethic    and  the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

extra-European  commerce,  to  the  reaction  of  expanding 
markets  on  industrial  organisation,  to  the  growth  of 
population,  to  technological  improvements  made  pos- 
sible by  the  progress  of  natural  science,  Weber's  reply, 
which  is  developed  at  greater  length  in  his  General 
Economic  History  than  in  the  present  essay,  is  that  such 
explanations  confuse  causes  and  occasions.  Granted 
that  the  economic  conditions  of  the  sixteenth  and 
seventeenth  centuries  were,  in  some  respects,  though  by 
no  means  in  all,  unusually  favourable  to  an  advance  in 
economic  technique,  such  conditions  had  existed  from 
time  to  time  in  the  past  without  giving  birth  to  the 
development  of  capitalist  industry.  In  many  of  the 
regions  affected  by  them  no  such  development  took 
place,  nor  were  those  which  enjoyed  the  highest 
economic  civilization  necessarily  those  in  which  the 
new  order  found  its  most  congenial  environment.  The 
France  of  Louis  XIV  commanded  resources  which, 
judged  by  the  standards  of  the  age,  were  immense,  but 
they  were  largely  dissipated  in  luxury  and  war^The 
"America  of  theeTghteertth  CiJfltUty  was  economically 
primitive,  but  it  is  in  the  maxims  of  Franklin  that  the 
spirit  of  bourgeois  capitalism,  which,  rather  than  the 
grandiose  schemes  of  mercantilist  statesmen,  was  to 
dominate  the  future,  finds,  Weber  argues,  its  naivest 
and  most  lucid  expression. 

To  appeal,  as  an  explanation,  to  the  acquisitive 
nstincts,  is  even  less  pertinent,  for  there  is  little  reason 
to  suppose  that  they  have  been  more  powerful  during 
'?!k.the  last  fe\y  centuries  than  in  earlier  ages.  "The  notion 
that  our  rationalistic  and  capitalistic  age  is  characterised 
by  a  stronger  economic  interest  than  other  periods  is 



childish.  The  moving  spirits  of  modern  capitaUsm  are 
not  possessed  of  a  stronger  economic  impulse  than,  for 
example,  an  Oriental  trader.  The  unchaining  of  the 
economic  interest,  merely  as  such,  has  produced  only 
irrational  results:  such  men  as  Cortes  and  Pizarro, 
who  were,  perhaps,  its  strongest  embodiment,  were  far 
from  having  an  idea  of  a  rationalistic  economic  life."  ' 
The  word  "rationalism"  is  used  by  Weber  as  a  term 
of  art,  to  describe  an  economic  system  based,  not  on 
custom  or  tradition,  but  on  the  deliberate  and  systematic 
adjustment  of  economic  means  to  the  attainment  of  the 
objective  of  pecuniary  profit.  The  question  is  why  this 
temper  triiimphed^ver  the  conventional  attitude  which 
had  regarded  the  appetitus  divitiarum  infijiitus — ^the 
unlimited  lust  for  gain — as  anti-social  and  immoral.^ 
His  answer  is  that  it  was  the  result  of  movements 
which  had  their  source  in  the  religious  revolution  of 
the  sixteenth  century. 

Weber  wrote  as  a  scholar,  not  as  a  propagandist, 
and  there  is  no  trace  in  his  work  of  the  historical  ani- 
mosities which  still  warp  discussions  of  the  effects  of 
the  Reformation  J  Professor  Pirenne,^  in  an  illuminating  ^ 
essay,  has  argued  that  social  progress  springs  from 
below,  and  that  each  new  phase  of  economic  develop- 
ment is  the  creation,  not  of  strata  long  in  possession  of 
wealth  and  power,  but  of  classes  which  rise  from 
humble  origins  to  build  a  new  structure  on  obscure 
foundations.  The  thesis  of  Weber  is  somewhat  similar. 

'  Weber,  General  Economic  History,  trans.  Frank  H.  Knight, 
PP- 355-6. 

*  Henri  Pirenne,  Les  P^riodes  de  VHistoire  Sociale  du  Capitalisme 
(Hayez,  Brussels,  1914). 


The  Protestant  Ethic  and  the  Spirit   of  Capitalism 

The  pioneers  of  the  modern  economic  order  were,  he 

,]  argues,  parvenus y  who  elbowed  their  way  to  success  in 

the  teeth  of  the  established  aristocracy  of  land  and 

commerce.  The  tonic  that  braced  them  for  the  conflict 

was  a  new  copcf^pti^^"  ^f  rpliginn^  wKi^ih  taught  them 

to  rpgrard   the_purs,ijjt^  pf  wealth   as,  not  merely  an 

.^acLvantage^  but  a_ duty.  This  conception  welded  into 

a  disciplined  force  the  still  feeble  bourgeoisie ^  heightened 

its  energies,  and  cast  a  halo  of  sanctification  round  its 

LjConvenient  vices.  What  is  significant,  in  short,  is  not 

T^  the  strength  of  the  motive  of  economic  self-interest, 

^  which  is  the  commonplace  of  all  ages  and  demands  no] 

1!  explanation.  It  is  the  change  of  moral  standards  which 

converted  a  natural  frailty  into  an  ornament  of  the 

spirit,  and  canonized  as  the  economic  virtues  habits 

which  in  earlier  ages  had  been  ^ 

1  The  force  which  produced  it  was  the  creed  associated 
V  \s^ith  the  name  of  Calvin.  Capitalism  was  the   social 
{^   .counterpart  of  Calvinist  theology. 

"X  The  central  idea  to  which  Weber  appeals  in  con- 
firmation of  his  theory  is  expressed  in  the  characteristic 
phrase  **a  calling."  For  Luther,  as  for  most  mediaeval 
theologians,  it  had  normally  meant  the  state  of  life  in 
which  the  individual  had  been  set  bv  Heaven,  and 


against  which  it  was  impious  to  rebel.  'l"o  the  Calvinist, 
Weber  argues,  the  calling  is  not  a  condition  in  which 
the  individual  is  born,  but  a  strenuous  and  exacting 
enterprise  to  be  chosen  bj^himself ,  and  to  be  pursued 
with  a  sense  of  rehgimis  responsihihty.  Baptized  in  the 
bracing,  if  icy,  waters  of  Calvinist  theology,  the  life 
of  business,  once  regarded  as  perilous  to  the  soul — 
summe  periculosa  est  emptionis  et  venditionis  negotiatio — 


acquires  a  new  sanctity.  Labout-js_-QüL.03erely  an 
economic  means :  it  is  a  spiritual  end.  Covetousness^  if  '>^ 
2l  danger  to  the^oul,  is  a  less  formidable  menace  than 
sloth.  So  far  from  poverty  being  melito^rious,  it  is  a 
duty  to  choose  the  more  profitable  occupation.  So  far  "/ 
Ifoift-there^beingan  inevitableconflict  between  money- 
making_and43iety Tthey^are^  natural^  alJl^  for  the  virtues 
incumbent   on   the   elect — diligence,   thriit^ sobriety, 
prudence — are   the_jnost   reliable   passporL  to   com- 
mercial_2ros2erity.  Thus  the  pursuit  of  riches,  which  ^ 
once  had  been  fe3red^;aSLllit:_iUieiy]f;;;5|HP&l4gion ,  was  I 
now_3:dcmn£d.-_.as_Jts__ally--^The   habits  "and^insti- 
tutions   in  which   that  philosophy  found   expression 
survived  long  after  the  creed  which  was  their  parent 
had  expired,  or  had  withdrawn  from  Europe  to  more 
congenial  cn^es.'  If  capitalism  begins  as  the  practical 
idealism  of  the  aspiring  bourgeoisie ,  it  ends,   Weber 
suggests    in    his   concluding   pages,    as    an    orgy   of 

Un  England   the   great  industry  grew   by  gradual  ^ 
increments  over  a  period  of  centuries,  and,  since  the 
English  class  system  had  long  been  based  on  differences 
of  wealth,  not  of  juristic  status,  there  was  no  violent 
contrast  between  the  legal  foundations  of  the  old  order      /) 
and  the  new.  Hence  in  England  the  conception  of    ^,  <^ 
capitalism  as  a  distinct  and  peculiar  phase  of  social  *^%i, ' 
development  has  not  readily  been  accepted.  It  is  still  ^^     -^ 
possible  for  writers,  who  in  their  youth  have  borne 
^  with  equanimity  instruction  on  the  meaning  of  feudal-  ^  - 
ism,  to  dismiss  capitalism  as  an  abstraction  of  theorists 
or  a  catchword  of  politicians. 

The  Protestant  Ethic  and  the   Spirit  of  Capitalism 

The  economic  history  of  the  Continent  has  moved 
by  different  stages  from  that  of  England,  and  the 
categories  employed  by  Continental  thinkers  have 
accordingly  been  different.  In  France,  where  the 
•site  on  which  the  modern  economic  system  was  to 
be  erected  was  levelled  by  a  cataclysm,  and  in 
Germany,  which  passed  in  the  fifty  years  between 
1850  and  1900  through  a  development  that  in  England 
had  occupied  two  hundred,  there  has  been  little 
temptation  to  question  that  capitalist  civilization  is  a 
phenomenon  differing,  not  merely  in  degree,  but  in 
kind,  from  the  social  order  preceding  it.  It  is  not 
surprising,  therefore,  that  its  causes  and  characteristics 
should  have  been  one  of  the  central  themes  of  historical 
study  in  both.  The  discussion  began  with  the  epoch- 
making  work  of  Marx,  who  was  greater  as  a  sociologist 
than  as  an  economic  theorist,  and  continues  unabated. 
Its  most  elaborate  monument  is  Sombart's  Der  Modertie 

The  first  edition  of  Sombart's  book  appeared  in  1902. 
Weber's  articles,  of  which  the  first  was  published  two 
years  later,  were  a  study  of  a  single  aspect  of  the  same 
problem.  A  whole  literature  ^  has  arisen  on  the  subject 

*  See,  in  particular,  the  following:  E.  Troeltsch,  Die  Sozialen  Lehren 
der  christlichen  Kirchen  und  Gruppen  (1912);  F.  Rachfahl,  Kalvinismus 
und  Kapitalismus  {Internationale  Wochenschrift,  1909,  i.  III);  B.  L. 
Brentano,  Die  Anfänge  des  Modernen  Kapitalismus  (1916)  and  Der 
Wirthschaftende  Mensch  in  der  Geschichte  (191 1);  W.  Sombart,  Die 
Juden  und  das  Wirthschaftslehen  (191 1 .  Eng.  trans.  The  Jews  and  Modern 
Capitalism,  1913),  and  Der  Bourgeois  (1913.  Eng.  trans.  The  Quint- 
essence of  Modern  Capitalism,  1915);  G.  v.  Schulze-Gaevernitz, 
"  Die  Geistesgeschichtlichen  Grundlagen  der  Anglo- Amerikanischen 
Weltsuprematie.  III.  Die  Wirthschaftsethik  des  Kapitalismus" 
{Archiv  für  Sozialwissenschaft  und  Sozialpolitik,  Bd.  61,  Heft  2); 
H.  S^e,  *'  Dans  quelle  mesure  Puritains  et  Juifs  ont-ils  contribuö  au 
Progres  du  Capitalisme  Moderne?"  {Revue  Historique,  t.  CLV,  1927) 


I  Foreword 

discussed  in  them.  How  does  Weber's  thesis  stand 
to-day,  after  a  quarter  of  a  century  of  research  and 
criticism  ? 

The  interpretation  of  rehgious  beHefs  and  social 
institutions  as  different  expressions  of  a  common 
psychological  attitude,  which  Weber  elaborated  in  his 
Aufsätze  zur  Religionssociologie^  is  no  longer  so  novel 
as  when  he  advanced  it.  Once  stated,  indeed,  it  has  the 
air  of  a  platitude.  The  capacity  of  human  beings  to 
departmentalize  themselves  is  surprising,  but  it  is  not 
unlimited.  It  is  obvious  that,  in  so  far  as  doctrines  as 
to  man's  place  in  the  universe  are  held  with  conviction, 
they  will  be  reflected  in  the  opinions  formed  of  the 
nature  of  the  social  order  most  conducive  to  well-being, 
and  that  the  habits  moulded  by  the  pressure  of  the 
economic  environment' will  in  turn  set  their  stamp  on 
religion .  Nor  can  Weber's  contention  be  disputed  that 
Calvinism,  at  least  in  certain  phases  of  its  history,  was 
associated  with  an  attitude  to  questions  of  social 
ethics  which  contemporaries  regarded  as  peculiarly  its 
own.  Its  critics  attacked  it  as  the  sanctimonious  ally  of 
commercial  sharp  practice.  Its  admirers  applauded  it 

and  Les  Origines  du  Capitalisme  Moderne  (igzb) ;  M.  Halbwachs,  "  Les 
Origines  Puritaines  du  Capitalisme  Moderne  "  (Revue  d'histoire  et 
Philosophie  religieuses,  March-April  1925)  and  "ficonomistes  et  His- 
toriens :  Max  Weber,  une  vie,  un  ceuvre  "  (Annales  d'Histoire  Eco- 
nomique  et  Sociale,  No.  i,  1929);  H,  Häuser,  Les  Debuts  du  Capitalisme 
Moderne  (igzj);  H.  G.  Wood,  "The  Influence  of  the  Reformation 
on  ideas  concerning  Wealth  and  Property,"  in  Property,  its  Rights 
and  Duties  (1913);  Talcott  Parsons,  "  Capitalism  in  Recent  German 
Literature"  (Journal  of  Political  Economy,  December  1928  and 
February  1929);  Frank  H.  Knight,  "Historical  and  Theoretical 
Issues  in  the  Problem  of  Modern  Capitalism"  (Journal  of  Economic 
and  Business  History,  November  1928);  Kemper  Fulberton,  "Cal- 
vinism and  Capitalism"  (Harvard  Theological  Reviezv,  July,  1928). 


The  Protestant   Ethic  and  the   Spirit  of  Capitalism 

as  the  school  of  the  economic  virtues.  By  the  middle  of 
the  seventeenth  century  the  contrast  between  the  social 
conservatism  of  Catholic  Europe  and  the  strenuous 
enterprise  of  Calvinist  communities  had  become  a 
commonplace.  "There  is  a  kind  of  natural  inaptness," 
wrote  a  pamphleteer  in  1671,  "in  the  Popish  religion 
to  business,  whereas,  on  the  contrary,  among  the 
Reformed,  the  greater  their  zeal,  the  greater  their 
inclination  to  trade  and  industry,  as  holding  idleness 
unlawful."  The  influence  of  Calvinism  was  frequently 
adduced  as  one  explanation  of  the  economic  prosperity 
of  Holland.  The  fact  that  in  England  the  stronghold 
of  Nonconformity  was  the  commercial  classes  was  an 
argument  repeatedly  advanced  for  tolerating  Non- 
conformists.      . 

/ In  cmphasTzingrtherefore,  the  connection  betwee^ 

religious  radicalism  and  economic  progress,  Webei 
called  attention  to  an  interesting  phenomenon,  atP 
which  previous  writers  had  hinted,  but  which  none, 
had  yet  examined  with  the  same  wealth  of  learning  and|- 
philosophical  insight.  (The  significance"to~be'äscnbedto 
it,  and,  in  particulaf;ihe  relation  of  Calvinist  influences 
to  the  other  forces  making  for  economic  innovation, 
is  a  different  and  more  difficult  question.  His  essay 
was  confined  to  the  part  played  by  religious  movements 
in  creating  conditions  favourable  to  the  growth  of  a 
new  type  of  economic  civilization,  and  he  is  careful  to 
guard  himself  against  the  criticism  that*  he  under- 
estimates the  importance  of  the  parallel  developments 
in  the  world  of  commerce,  finance,  and  industry. 
It  is  obvious,  however,  that,  until  the  latter  have  been 
examined,  it  is  not  possible  to  determine  the  weight  to 



be  assigned  to  the  former.  It  is  arguable,  at  least,  that, 
instead  of  Calvinism  producing  the  spirit  of  Capitalism,  ,/ 
both   would  with   equal   plausibility   be   regarded   as 
different  effects  of  changes  in  economic  organisation 
and  social  structure. 

It  is  the  temptation  of  one  who  expounds  a  new  and 
fruitful  idea  to  use  it  as  a  key  to  unlock  all  doors, 
and  to  explain  by  reference  to  a  single  principle 
phenomena  which  are,  in  reality,  the  result  of  several 
converging  causes  ."^~Weber's  essay  is  not  altogether 
free,  perhaps,  from  the  defects  of  its  qualities.  It 
appears  occasionally  to  be  somewhat  over-subtle  in' 
ascribing  to  intellectual  and  moral  influences  develop- 
ments which  were  the  result  of  more  prosaic  and 
mundane  forces,  and  which  appeared,  irrespective  of 
the  character  of  religious  creeds,  wherever  external 
conditions  offered  them  a  congenial  environment.  / 
"Capitalism"  itself  is  an  ambiguous,  if  indispensable, 
word,  and  Weber's  interpretation  of  it  seems  sometimes 
to  be  open  to  the  criticism  of  Professor  See,^  that  he 
simplifies  and  limits  its  meaning  to  suit  the  exigencies 
of  his  argument.  There  was  no  lack  of  the  "capitalist 
spirit"  in  the  Venice  and  Florence  of  the  fourteenth 
century,  or  in  the  Antwerp  of  the  fifteenth.  Its  develop- 
ment in  Holland  and  England,  it  might  not  unreason- 
ably be  argued,  had  less  to  do  with  the  fact  that  they, 
or  certain  social  strata  in  them,  accepted  the  Calvinist 
version  of  the  Reformation,  than  with  large  economic 
movements  and  the  social  changes  produced  by  them. 

t  '  H.  S^e,  "  Dans  quelle  mesure  Puritains  et  Juifs  ont-ils  contribu^ 
|au  Progrfes  Capitalisme  Moderne?"  {Revue  Historique,  t.  CLV, 

'  7 

The  Protestant  Ethic  and  the  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

**Ce  que  MM.  Weber  et  Troeltsch,"  writes  Professor 
Pirenne,»  "prennent  pour  I'esprit  Calviniste,  c'est 
precisement  I'esprit  des  hommes  nouveaux  que  la 
revolution  economique  du  temps  introduit  dans  la 
vie  des  affaires,  et  qui  s'y  opposent  aux  traditionalistes 
auxquels  ils  se  substituent."  Why  insist  that  causation 
can  work  in  only  one  direction  ?  Is  it  not  a  little  artificial 
to  suggest  that  capitalist  enterprise  had  to  wait,  as 
Weber  appears  to  imply,  till  religious  changes  had 
produced  a  capitalist  spirit?  Would  it  not  be  equally 
plausible,  and  equally  one-sided,  to  argue  that  the 
religious  changes  were  themselves  merely  the  result  of 
economic  movements  ? 

If  Weber,  as  was  natural  in  view  of  his  approach  to 
the  problem,  seems  to  lay  in  the  present  essay  some- 
what too  exclusive  an  emphasis  upon  intellectual  and 
ethical  forces,  his  analysis  of  those  forces  themselves 
requires,  perhaps,  to  be  supplemented.  Brentano 's 
criticism,  that  the  political  thought  of  the  Renaissance 
was  as  powerful  a  solvent  of  conventional  restraints  as 
the  teaching  of  Calvin,  is  not  without  weight.  In 
England,  at  any  rate,  the  speculations  of  business  men 
and  economists  as  to  money,  prices,  and  the  foreign 
exchanges,  which  were  occasioned  by  the  recurrent 
financial  crises  of  the  sixteenth  century  and  by  the 
change  in  the  price  level,  were  equally  effective  in 
undermining  the  attitude  which  Weber  called  tradi- 
tionalism. Recent  studies  of  the  development  of 
economic  thought  suggest  that  the  change  of  opinion 
on  economic  ethics  ascribed  to  Calvinism  was  by  no 

'  H.  Pirenne,  Les  Periodes  de  VHistoire    Sociale   du    Capitalisme 
(1914).  2 



means  confined  to  it,  but  was  part  of  a  general  intel- 
lectual movement,  which  was  reflected  in  the  outlook 
of  Catholic,  as  well  as  of  Protestant,  writers.  Nor  was 
the  influence  of  Calvinist  teaching  itself  so  uniform  in 
character,  or  so  undeviating  in  tendency,  as  might  be 
inferred  by  the  reader  of  Weber's  essay.  On  the 
contrary,  it  varied  widely  from  period  to  period  and 
coimtry  to  country,  with  differences  of  economic 
conditions,  social  tradition,  and  political  environment. 
It  looked  to  the  past  as  well  as  to  the  future.  If  in 
some  of  its  phases  it  was  on  the  side  of  change,  in 
others  it  was  conservative. 

Most  of  Weber's  illustrations  of  his  thesis  are  drawn 
from  the  writings  of  English  Puritans  of  the  latter 
part  of  the  seventeenth  century.  It  is  their  teaching 
which  supplies  him  with  the  materials  for  his  picture  of 
the  pious  bourgeois  conducting  his  business  as  a  calling 
to  which  Providence  has  summoned  the  elect.  Whether 
the  idea  conveyed  by  the  word  "calling"  is  so  peculiar 
to  Calvinism  as  Weber  implies  is  a  question  for 
theologians;  but  the  problem,  it  may  be  suggested, 
is  considerably  more  complex  than  his  treatment  of  it 
suggests.  For  three  generations  of  economic  develop- 
ment and  political  agitation  lay  between  these  writers 
and  the  author  of  the  Institutes.  The  Calvinism  which 
fought  the  English  Civil  War,  still  more  the  Calvinism 
which  won  an  uneasy  toleration  at  the  Revolution,  was 
not  that  of  its  founder. 

Calvin's  own  ideal  of  social  organization  Is  revealed 
by  the  system  which  he  erected  at  Geneva.  It  had  been 

/heocracy  administered  by  a  dictatorship  of  ministers. 

I  "the  most  perfect  school  of  Christ  ever  seen  on 

c  9 


The  Protestant  Ethic  and  the   Spirit  of   Capitalism 

earth  since  the  day  of  the  Apostles",  the  rule  of  life 
had  been  an  iron  collectivism.  A  godly  discipline  had 
been  the  aim  of  Knox,  of  the  Reformed  Churches  in 
France,  and  of  the  fathers  of  the  English  Presbyterian 
Movement;  while  a  strict  control  of  economic  enter- 
prise had  been  the  policy  first  pursued  by  the  saints 
in  New  England.  The  Calvinism,  both  of  England 
and  Holland,  in  the  seventeenth  century,  had  found  its 
way  to  a  different  position.  It  had  discovered  a  com- 
promise in  which  a  juster  balance  was  struck  between 
prosperity  and  salvation,  and,  while  retaining  the 
theology  of  the  master,  it  repudiated  his  scheme  of 
social  ethics.  Persuaded  that  "godliness  hath  the 
promise  of  this  life,  as  well  as  of  the  life  to  come,"  it 
resisted,  with  sober  intransigeance,  the  interference  in 
matters  of  business  both  of  the  state  and  of  divines. 
It  is  this  second,  individualistic  phase  of  Calvinism, 
rather  than  the  remorseless  rigours  of  Calvin  himself, 
which  may  plausibly  be  held  to  have  affinities  with  the 
temper  called  by  Weber  "the  spirit  of  Capitalism." 
The  question  which  needs  investigation  is  that  of  the 
causes  which  produced  a  change  of  attitude  so  con- 
venient to  its  votaries  and  so  embarrassing  to  their 

It  is  a  question  which  raises  issues  that  are  not 
discussed  at  length  in  Weber's  essay,  though,  doubtless, 
he  was  aware  of  them.  Taking  as  his  theme,  not  the 
conduct  of  Puritan  capitalists,  but  the  doctrines  of 
Puritan  divines,  he  pursues  a  single  line  of  inquiry 
with  masterly  ingenuity.  His  conclusions  are  illuminat- 
ing; but  they  are  susceptible,  it  may  perhaps  be  heid, 
of  more  than  one  interpretation.  There  was  action  j^nd 




reaction,  and,  while  Puritanism  helped  to  mould  the 
social  order,  it  was,  inits  turn»  jnoulded_by  it.  It  is 
instructive  to  "'fFaCeT'with  Weber,  the  influence  of 
religious  ideas  on  economic  development.  It  is  not  less 
important  to  grasp  the  effect  of  the  economic  arrange- 
ments accepted  by  an  age  on  the  opinion  which  it  holds 
of  the  province  of  religion. 







A  PRODUCT  of  modern  European  civilization,  studying 
any  problem  of  universal  history,  is  bound  to  ask  him- 
self to  ^hat  ^combination  of  circumstances  the  fact 
should  be  attributed  that  in  Western  civilization,  and  in 
Western  civilization  only,  cultural  phenomena  have 
appeared  which(äs  we  like  to  think)  lie  in  a  line~of 
development  having^  universal  significance  and  value. 

Only  in  the  West  does  science  exist  at  a  stage  of 
development  which  we  recognize  to-day  as  valid. 
Knrpiriral  knowledge,  reflection  on  problems  of  the 
cosmos  and  of  life,  philosophical  and  theological 
wisdom  of  the  most  profound  sort,  are  not  confined  to 
it.  thougiTm  the  case  of Ihe  last  the  full  development  of 
a_§ystematic  theology  must  be  credited  to  Christianity 
under  the  influence  of  Hellenism,  since  there  were 
only  fragments  m  Islam  and  in  a  few  Indian  sects.  In 
short,  knowledge  and  observation  of  great  refinement 
have  existed  elsewhere,  above  all  in  India,  China, 
Babylonia,  Egypt.  But  in  Babylonia  and  elsewhere 
astronomy  lacked — ^which  makes  its  development  all 
the  more  astounding — ^the  mathematical  foundation 
which  it  first  received  from  the  Greeks.  The  Indian 
geometry  had  no  rational  proof;  that  was  another 
product  of  the  Greek  intellect,  also  the  creator  of 
mechanics  and  physics.  The  Indian  natural  sciences, 
though  well  developed  in  observation,  lacked  the 
method  of  experiment,  which  was,  apart  from  begin- 
nings in  antiquity,  essentially  a  product  of  the 
Renaissance,  as  was  the  modern  laboratory.  Hence 
medicine,  especially  in  India,  though  highly  developed 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and  the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

in  empirical  technique,  lacked  a  biological  and  par- 
ticularly a  biochemical  foundation.  A  rational  chemistry 
has  been  absent  from  all  areas  of  culture  except  the 

The  highly  developed  historical  scholarship  of  China 
did  not  have  the  method  of  Thucydides.  Machiavelli, 
it  is  true,  had  predecessors  in  India;  but  all  Indian 
political  thought  was  lacking  in  a  systematic  method 
comparable  to  that  of  Aristotle,  and,  indeed,  in  the 
possession  of  rational  concepts.  Not  all  the  anticipa- 
tions in  India  (School  of  Mimamsa),  nor  the  extensive 
codification  especially  in  the  Near  East,  nor  all  the 
Indian  and  other  books  of  law,  had  the  strictly  syste- 
matic forms  of  thought,  so  essential  to  a  rational  juris- 
prudence, of  the  Roman  law  and  of  the  Western  law 
under  its  influence.  A  structure  like  the  canon  law  is 
known  only  to  the  West. 

A  similar  statement  is  true  of  art.  The  musical  ear 
of  other  peoples  has  probably  been  even  more  sensi- 
tively developed  than  our  own,  certainly  not  less  so. 
Polyphonic  music  of  various  kinds  has  been  widely 
distributed  over  the  earth.  The  co-operation  of  a 
number  of  instruments  and  also  the  singing  of  parts 
have  existed  elsewhere.  All  our  rational  tone  intervals 
have  been  known  and  calculated.  But  rational  har- 
monious music,  both  counterpoint  and  harmony, 
formation  of  the  tone  material  on  the  basis  of  three 
triads  with  the  harmonic  third;  our  chromatics  and 
enharmonics,  not  interpreted  in  terms  of  space,  but, 
since  the  Renaissance,  of  harmony;  our  orchestra,  with 
its  string  quartet  as  a  nucleus,  and  the  organization  of 
ensembles  of  wind  instruments;  our  bass  accompani- 


Author's  Introduction 

ment;  our  system  of  notation,  which  has  made  possible 
the  composition  and  production  of  modem  musical 
works,  and  thus  their  very  survival;  our  sonatas, 
symphonies,  operas;  and  finally,  as  means  to  all  these, 
our  fundamental  instruments,  the  organ,  piano,  violin, 
etc.;  all  these  things  are  known  only  in  the  Occident, 
although  programme  music,  tone  poetry,  alteration  of 
tones  and  chromatics,  have  existed  in  various  musical 
traditions  as  means  of  expression. 

In  architecture,  pointed  arches  have  been  used  else- 
where as  a  means  of  decoration,  in  antiquity  and  in 
Asia ;  presumably  the  combination  of  pointed  arch  and 
cross-arched  vault  was  not  unknown  in  the  Orient. 
But  the  rational  use  of  the  Gothic  vault  as  a  means  of 
distributing  pressure  and  of  roofing  spaces  of  all 
forms,  and  above  all  as  the  constructive  principle  of 
great  monumental  buildings  and  the  foundation  of  a 
style  extending  to  sculpture  and  painting,  such  as  that 
created  by  our  Middle  Ages,  does  not  occur  elsewhere. 
The  technical  basis  of  our  architecture  came  from  the 
Orient.  But  the  Orient  lacked  that  solution  of  the 
problem  of  the  dome  and  that  type  of  classic  rational- 
ization of  all  art — in  painting  by  the  rational  utilization 
of  lines  and  spatial  perspective — which  the  Renaissance 
created  for  us.  There  was  printing  in  China.  But  a 
printed  literature,  designed  only  for  print  and  only 
possible  through  it,  and,  above  all,  the  Press  and 
periodicals,  have  appeared  only  in  the  Occident. 
Institutions  of  higher  education  of  all  possible  types,, 
even  some  superficially  similar  to  our  universities,  or 
at  least  academies,  have  existed  (China,  Islam).  But  a 
rational,  systematic,  and  specialized  pursuit  of  science, 

^  IS 

The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of    Capitalism 

with  trained  and  specialized  personnel,  has^  only 
existed  in  the  West  in  a  sense  at  all  approaching  its 
present  dominant  place  in  our  culture.  Above  all  is 
this  true  of  the  trained  official,  the  pillar  of  both  the 
modern  State  and  of  the  economic  life-  of  the  West. 
He  forms  a  type  of  which  there  have  heretofore  only 
been  suggestions,  which  have  never  remotely  ap- 
proached its  present  importance  for  the  social  order. 
Of  course  the  official,  even  the  specialized  official,  is  a 
very  old  constituent  of  the  most  various  societies.  But 
no  country  and  no  age  has  ever  experienced,  in  the 
same  sense  as  the  modern  Occident,  the  absolute  and 
complete  dependence  of  its  whole  existence,  of  the 
political,  technical,  and  economic  conditions  of  its  life, 
on  a  specially  trained  organization  of  officials.  The 
most  important  functions  of  the  everyday  life  of 
society  have  come  to  be  in  the  hands  of  technically, 
commercially,  and  above  all  legally  trained  govern- 
ment officials. 

Organization  of  political  and  social  groups  in  feudal 
classes  has  been  common.  But  even  the  feudal^  state 
of  rex  et  regnum  in  the  Western  sense  has  only  been 
known  to  our  culture.  Even  more  are  parliaments  of 
periodically  elected  representatives,  with  government 
by  demagogues  and  party  leaders  as  ministers  respon- 
sible to  the  parliaments,  peculiar  to  us,  although  there 
have,  of  course,  been  parties,  in  the  sense  of  organiza- 
tions for  exerting  influence  and  gaining  control  of 
political  power,  all  over  the  world.  In  fact,  the  State 
itself,  in  the  sense  of  a  political  association  with  a 
ra  tional,  written  constitution,  rationally  ordained  law, 
anvd  an  administration  bound  to  rational  rules  or  laws, 


administered  by  trained  officials,  is  known,  in  this 
combination  of  characteristics,  only  in  the  Occident, 
despite  all  other  approaches  to  it. 

^And  the  same  is  true  of  the  most  fateful  force  in  our 
nioaern  life,  capitalism.  The  impulse  to  arqnisitinn,     , 
pursuit_of  gain,  of  money,   of  the,  grpatpst   pngsjhlp 
amount  "f  money^  has  in  itself  nothing  to  do  with 
capitalismj^his  impulse  exists  and  has  existed  among 
waiters,  physicians,  coachmen,  artists,  prostitutes,  dis- 
honest officials,  soldiers,  nobles,  crusaders,  gamblers, ^ 
and  beggars.  One  may  say  that  it  has  been  common  to  ■^' 
all  sorts  and  conditions  of  men  at  all  times  f^pH  \n  nÜ  '^^ 
cniintries  nf  the  f^arth,  whprf^vpr  thf^  nKj^Ptlye  possi- 
bility ^f  it  jp  or  has  b^^n  givfn    It^should  be  taught  in 
the  kindergarten  of  cultural  history  that  this  naive  id^a 
oTcäpitalism  must  be  given  up  once  and  for  all.  Un- 
limited jgreed  for  gain  is  not  in  the  least  identical  with 
capitalismj   ?inH   i«  still  less  its  spirit-    Papitplism   mny 
even  be  identical  with  thp  r^Qt-ramtj  nr  at  |pQgt  ^  rM\^^?\ 

tempering^  of  this  irrational  impulse.  \But  capitalism  i^       /^ 
identical  with  the  pursuit  of  profit,  and  forever  renewed\ 
profit,  by  means  of  continuous,  rational,  capitalistic 
eaterprisei-For  it  must  be  so:  in  a  wholly  capitalistic 
order  of  society,  an  individual  capitalistic  enterprise 
which  did  not  take  advantage  of  its  opportunities  for 
profit-making  would  be  doomed  to  extinction. 
(  Let  us  now  define  our  terms  sornewhat_more  care.- 
fully  than  is  generally  done.  We  will  define  a  capitalistic 
economic  flrtinn~äR~nnp"whirh  rests  on  the  expectation 
of  profit  by  the  utilization  of  opportunities  for  exchange, 
that  is  on  (formally)  peaceful  chances  of  profit.  Acqui- 
sition by  force  (formally  and  actually)  follows  its  own 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

particular  laws,  and  it  is  not  expedient,  however  little 
one  can  forbid  this,  to  place  it  in  the  same  category 
with  action  which  is,  in  the  last  analysis,  oriented  to 
profits  from  exchange. ^  Where  capitalistic  acquisition 
is  rationally  pursued,  the  corresponding  action  is 
adjusted  to  calculations  in  terms  of  capital.  This  means 
that  the  action  is  adapted  to  a  systematic  utilization  of 
goods  or  personal  services  as  means  of  acquisition  in 
such  a  way  that,  at  the  close  of  a  business  period,  the 
balance  of  the  enterprise  in  money  assets  (or,  in 
the  case  of  a  continuous  enterprise,  the  periodically 
estimated  money  value  of  assets)  exceeds  the  capital, 
i.e.  the  estimated  value  of  the  material  "^eans 
of  production  used  for  acquisition  in  exchange.  It 
makes  no  difference  whether  it  involves  a  quantity 
of  goods  entrusted  in  natura  to  a  travelling  merchant, 
the  proceeds  of  which  may  consist  in  other  goods  in 
natura  acquired  by  trade,  or  whether  it  involves  a 
manufacturing  enterprise,  the  assets  of  which  consist 
of  buildings,  machinery,  cash,  raw  materials,  partly 
and  wholly  manufactured  goods,  which  are  balanced 
against  liabilities.  The  important  fact  is  always  that  a 
calculation  of  capital  in  terms  of  money  is  made, 
whether  by  modern  book-keeping  methods  or  in  any 
other  way,  however  primitive  and  crude.  Everything 
is  done  in  terms  of  balances :  at  the  beginning  of  the 
enterprise  an  initial  balance,  before  every  individual 
decision  a  calculation  to  ascertain  its  probable  profit- 
ableness, and  at  the  end  a  final  balance  to  ascertain 
how  much  profit  has  been  made.  For  instance,  the 
initial  balances  of  a  commenda  ^  transaction  would 
determine  an  agreed  money  value  of  the  assets  put  into 


it  (so  far  as  they  were  not  in  money  form  already),  and 
a  final  balance  would  form  the  estimate  on  which 
to  base  the  distribution  of  profit  and  loss  at  the  end. 
So  far  as  the  transactions  are  rational,  calculation  under- 
lies every  smgle  action  oi  the  partners.  1  hat  a  really 
accurate  calculation  or  estimate  may  not  exist,  that  the 
procedure  is  pure  guess-work,  or  simply  traditional  and 
conventional,  happens  even  to-day  in  every  form  of 
capitalistic  enterprise  where  the  circumstances  do 
not  demand  strict  accuracy.  But  these  are  points 
affecting  only  the  degree  of  rationality  of  capitalistic 

For  the  purpose  of  this  conception  all  that  matters  is 
that  an  actual  adaptation  of  economic  action  to  a  com- 
parison of  money  income  with  money  expenses  takes 
place,  no  matter  how  primitive  the  form.  Now  in  this 
sense  capitalism^  and  capitalistic  enterprises,  even 
with  a  considerable  rationalization  of  capitalistic  calcu- 
lation, have  existed  in  all  civilized  countries  of  the 
earth,  so  far  as  economic  documents  permit  us  to 
judge.  In  China,  India,  Babylon,  Egypt,  Mediterranean 
antiquity,  and  the  Middle  Ages,  as  well  as  in  modem 
times.  These  were  not  merely  isolated  ventures,  but 
economic  enterprises  which  were  entirely  dependent 
on  the  continual  renewal  of  capitalistic  undertakings, 
and  even  continuous  operations.  However,  trade  espe- 
cially was  for  a  long  time  not  continuous  like  our 
own,  but  consisted  essentially  in  a  series  of  individual 
undertakings.  Only  gradually  did  the  activities  of  even 
the  large  merchants  acquire  an  inner  cohesion  (with 
branch  organizations,  etc.).  In  any  case,  the  capitalistic 
enterprise  and  the  capitalistic  entrepreneur,  not  only 


The   Protestant    Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of   Capitalism 

as  occasional  but  as  regular  entrepreneurs,  are  very  old 
and  were  very  widespread. 

Now,  however,  the  Occident  has  developed  capital- 
ism both  to  a  quantitative  extent,  and  (carrying  this 
quantitative  development)  in  types,  forms,  and  direc- 
tions which  have  never  existed  elsewhere.  All  over  the 
world  there  have  been  merchants,  wholesale  and  retail, 
local  and  engaged  in  foreign  trade.  Loans  of  all  kinds 
have  been  made,  and  there  have  been  banks  with  the 
most  various  functions,  at  least  comparable  to  ours  of, 
say,  the  sixteenth  century.  Sea  loans,*  commenda^  and 
transactions  and  associations  similar  to  the  Kom- 
manditgesellschaft y^  have  all  been  widespread,  even  as 
continuous  businesses.  Whenever  money  finances  of 
public  bodies  have  existed,  money- lenders  have  ap- 
peared, as  in  Babylon,  Hellas,  India,  China,  Rome. 
They  have  financed  wars  and  piracy,  contracts  and 
building  operations  of  all  sorts.  In  overseas  policy  they 
have  functioned  as  colonial  entrepreneurs,  as  planters 
with  slaves,  or  directly  or  indirectly  forced  labour,  and 
have  farmed  domains,  offices,  and,  above  all,  taxes. 
They  have  financed  party  leaders  in  elections  and 
condottieri  in  civil  wars.  And,  finally,  they  have  been 
speculators  in  chances  for  pecuniary  gain  of  all  kinds. 
This  kind  of  entrepreneur,  the  capitalistic  adventurer, 
has  existed  everywhere.  Withjthejexception  of  trade 
and  credit  and  banking  transactions,  their  activities' 
were  predominantly  of  an  irrational  and  speculative 
character,  or  directed  to  acquisition  by  force,  above  all 
the  acquisition  of  booty,  whether  directly  in  war  or  in 
the  form  of  continuous  fiscal  booty  by  exploitation  of 



The  capitalism  of  promoters,  large-scale  speculators, 
concession  hunters,  and  much  modern  financial  capital- 
ism even  in  peace  time,  but,  above  all,  the  capitalism 
especially  concerned  with  exploiting  wars,  bears  this 
stamp  even  in  modern  Western  countries,  and  some,  / 
but  only  some,  parts  of  large-scale  international  trade  ^  ^ 
are  closely  related  to  it,  to-day  as  alwa^» '■c^/ö/w  j^ 

But  in  modem  times  the  Occident^nas  developed,  in  U> 
addition  to  this,  a  very  different  form  of  capitalism  /-/e^'^ 
which  has  appeared  nowhere  else :  the  rational  capital- 
istic organization  of  (formally)  free  labour.  Only 
suggestions  of  it  are  found  elsewhere.  Even  the  organ- 
ization of  unfree  labour  reached  a  considerable  degree 
of  rationality  only  on  plantations  and  to  a  very  limited 
extent  in  the  Ergasteria  of  antiquity.  In  the  manors, 
manorial  workshops,  and  domestic  industries  on  estates 
with  serf  labour  it  was  probably  somewhat  less  devel- 
oped. Even  real  domestic  industries  with  free  labour 
have  definitely  been  proved  to  have  existed  in  only  a 
few  isolated  cases  outside  the  Occident.  The  frequent 
use  of  day  labourers  led  in  a  very  few  cases — especially 
State  monopolies,  which  are, however,  very  different  from 
modern  industrial  organization — to  manufacturing  organ- 
izations, but  never  to  a  rational  organization  of  apprentice- 
ship in  the  handicrafts  like  that  of  our  Middle  Ages. 

^Rational  industrial  organization,  attuned  to  a  regular 
market7^nd  neither  to  political  nor  irrationally  specu- 
lative opportunities  for  profit,  is  not,  however,  the  only 
peculiarity  of  Western  capitalism.  The  modern  rational 
organization  of  the  capitalistic  enterprise  would  not 
have  been  possible  without  two  other  important  factors 
in  its  development:  tJie  separation  of  business  from      ^'^ 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

the  household,  which  completely  dominates  modem 
economic  life,  and  closely  connected  with  it,  rational 
book-keeping.  A  spatial  separation  of  places  of  work 
from  those  of  residence  exists  elsewhere,  as  in  the 
Oriental  bazaar  and  in  the  ergasteria  of  other  cultures. 
The  development  of  capitalistic  associations  with  their 
own  accounts  is  also  found  in  the  Far  East,  the  Near 
East,  and  in  antiquity.  But  compared  to  the  modern 
independence  of  business  enterprises,  those  are  only 
small  beginnings.  The  reason  for  this  was  particularly 
that  the  indispensable  requisites  for  this  independence, 
our  rational  business  book-keeping  and  our  legal 
separation  of  corporate  from  personal  property,  were 
entirely  lacking,  or  had  only  begun  to  develop.^  The 
tendency  everywhere  else  was  for  acquisitive  enterprises 
to  arise  as  parts  of  a  royal  or  manorial  household  (of 
the  oikos),  which  is,  as  Rodbertus  has  perceived,  with 
all  its  superficial  similarity,  a  fundamentally  different, 
even  opposite,  development. 

However,  all  these  peculiarities  of  Western  capitalism 
have  derived  their  significance  in  the  last  analysis  only 
from  their  association  with  the  capitalistic  organization 
of  labour.  Even  what  is  generally  called  commercializa- 
tion, the  development  of  negotiable  securities  and  the 
rationalization  of  speculation,  the  exchanges,  etc.,  is 
connected  with  it.  For  without  the  rational  capitalistic 
organization  of  labour,,  all  this,  so  far  as  it  was  possible 
at  all,  would  have  nothing  like  the  same  significance, 
above  all  for  the  social  structure  and  all  the  specific 
problems  of  the  modem  Occident  connected  with  it. 
Exact  calculation — the  basis  of  everything  else — is  only 
possible  on  a  basis  of  free  labour.' 



And  just  as,  or  rather  because,  the  world  has  known 
no  rational  organization  of  labour  outside  the  modern 
Occident,  it  has  known  no  rational  socialism.  Of  course, 
there  has  been  civic  economy,  a  civic  food-supply 
policy,  mercantilism  and  welfare  policies  of  princes, 
rationing,  regulation  of  economic  life,  protectionism, 
and  laissez-faire  theories  (as  in  China).  The  world  has 
also  known  socialistic  and  communistic  experiments  of 
various  sorts :  family,  religious,  or  military  communism, 
State  socialism  (in  Egypt),  monopolistic  cartels,  and 
consumers'  organizations.  But  although  there  have 
everywhere  been  civic  market  privileges,  companies, 
guilds,  and  all  sorts  of  legal  differences  between  town 
and  country,  the  concept  of  the  citizen  has  not  existed 
outside  the  Occident,  and  that  of  the  bourgeoisie 
outside  the  modern  Occident.  Similarly,  the  proletariat 
as  a  class  could  not  exist,  because  there  was  no  rational 
organization  of  free  labour  under  regular  discipline. 
Qlass_struggles  between  creditor  and  debtor  classes; 
landowners  and  the  landless,  serfs,  or  tenants;  trading 
interests  and  consumers  or  landlords,  have  existed 
everywhere  in  various  combinations.  But  even  the 
Western  mediaeval  struggles  between  putters-out  and 
their  workers  exist  elsewhere  only  in  beginnings.  The 
modern  conflict  of  the  large-scale  industrial  entre- 
preneur and  free-wage  labourers  was  entirely  lacking. 
And  thus  there  could  be  no  such  problems  as  those 
of  socialism. 

Hence  in  a  universal  history  of  culture  the  central 
problem  for  us  is  not,  in  the  last  analysis,  even  from  a 
purely  economic  view-point,  the  development  of  capital- 
istic activity  as  such,  differing  in  different  cultures  only 


The    Protestant    Ethic   and   the    Spirit    of   Capitalism 

in  form:  the  adventurer  type,  or  capitalism  in  trade, 
war,  politics,  or  administration  as  sources  of  gain.  It  is 

(rather  the  origin  of  this  sober  bourgeois  capitalism  with 
its  rational  organization  of  free  labour.  Or  in  terms  of 
/cultural  history,  the  problem  is  that  of  the  origin  of 

/  the  Western  bourgeois  class  and  of  its  peculiarities,  a 

\  problem  which  is  certainly  closely  connected  with  that 
of  the  origin  of  the  capitalistic  organization  of  labour, 
but  is  not  quite  the  same  thing.  For  the  bourgeois  as  a 
class  existed  prior  to  the  development  of  the  peculiar 
modern  form  of  capitalism,  though,  it  is  true,  only  in 
the  Western  hemisphere. 

Now  the  peculiar  modern  Western  form  of  capitalism 
has  been,  at  first  sight,  strongly  influenced  by  the 
development  of  technical  possibilities.  Its  rationality  is 
to-day  essentially  dependent  on  the  calculability  of  the 
most  important  technical  factors.  But  this  means 
fundamentally  that  it  is  dependent  on  the  peculiarities 
of  modern  science,  especially  the  natural  sciences  based 
on  mathematics  and  exact  and  rational  experiment.  On 
the  other  hand,  the  development  of  these  sciences  and 
of  the  technique  resting  upon  them  now  receives 
important  stimulation  from  these  capitalistic  interests 
in  its  practical  economic  application.  It  is  true  that  the 
origin  of  Western  science  cannot  be  attributed  to  such 
interests.  Calculation,  even  with  decimals,  and  algebra 
have  been  carried  on  in   India,  where  the  decimal 

/  system  was  invented.  But  it  was  only  made  use  of  by 
developing  capitalism  in  the  West,  while  in  India  it 

,     led  to  no  modern  arithmetic  or  book-keeping.  Neither 
was  the  origin  of  mathematics  and  mechanics  deter- 
mined by  capitalistic  interests.  But  the  technical  utilizsL'  )f 
24  — 


tion  of  scientific  knowledge,  so  important  for  the  living 
conditions  of  the  mass  of  people,  was  certainly  encour-  I 
aged  by  economic  considerations,  which  were  extremely  ' 
favourable  to  it  in  the  Occident.  Bui  this  encourage- 
ment was  derived  from  the  peculiarities  of  the  social 
structure  of  the  Occident.  We  must  hence  ask,  from 
what  parts  of  that  structure  was  it  derived,  since  not 
all  of  them  have  been  of  equal  importance  ? 

Among  those  of  undoubted  importance  are  the 
rational  structures  of  law  and  of  administration.  Fori- 
modern  rational  capitalism  has  need,  not  only  of  the 
technical  means  of  production,  but  of  a  calculable  legal 
system  and  of  administration  in  terms  of  formal  rules. 
Without  it  adventurous  and  speculative  trading  capital- 
ism and  all  sorts  of  politically  determined  capitalisms 
are  possible,  but  no  rational  enterprise  under  individual 
initiative,  with  fixed  capital  and  certainty  of  calculations. 
Such  a  legal  system  and  such  administration  have  been 
available  for  economic  activity  in  a  comparative  state  of 
legal  and  formalistic  perfection  only  in  the  Occident. 
We  must  hence  inquire  where  that  law  came  from. 
Among  other  circumstances,  capitalistic  interests  häve| 
in  turn  undoubtedly  also  helped,  but  by  no  means  alone  | 
nor  even  principally,  to  prepare  the  way  for  the  pre- 
dominance in  law  and  administration  of  a  class  of  jurists 
specially  trained  in  rational  law.  But  these  interests 
did  not  themselves  create  that  law.  Quite  different  forces 
were  at  work  in  this  development.  And  why  did  not  the 
capitalistic  interests  do  the  same  in  China  or  India? 
Why- did  not  the  scientific,  the  artistic,  the  political,  or 
the  economic  development  there  enter  upon  that  path  , 
of  rationalization  which  is  peculiar  to  the  Occident?      y 


The    Protestant    Ethic    and   the    Spirit    of   Capitalism 

For  in  all  the  above  cases  it  is  a  question  of  the 
specific  and  peculiar  rationalism  of  Western  culture. 
Now  by  this  term  very  different  things  may  be  under- 
stood, as  the  following  discussion  will  repeatedly  show. 
There  is,  for  example,  rationalization'  of  mystical 
contemplation,  that  is  of  an  attitude  which,  viewed 
from  other  departments  of  life,  is  specifically  irrational, 
just  as  much  as  there  are  rationalizations  of  economic 
life,  of  technique,  of  scientific  research,  of  military 
training,  of  law  and  administration.  Furthermore,  each 
one  of  these  fields  may  be  rationalized  in  terms  of  very 
different  ultimate  values  and  ends,  and  what  is  rational 
from  one  point  of  view  may  well  be  irrational  from 
another.  Hence  rationalizations  of  the  most  varied 
character  have  existed  in  various  departments  of  life 
and  in  all  areas  of  culture.  To  characterize  their 
differences  from  the  view-point  of  cultural  history  it  is 
necessary  to  know  what  departments  are  rationalized, 
and  in  what  direction.  It  is  hence  our  first  concern 
to  work  out  and  to  explain  genetically  the  special 
peculiarity  of  Occidental  rationalism,  and  within  this 
field  that  of  the  modern  Occidental  form.  Every  such 
attempt  at  explanation  must,  recognizing  the  funda- 
mental importance  of  the  economic  factor,  above  all 
take  account  of  the  economic  conditions.  But  at  the 
same  time  the  opposite  correlation  must  not  be  left 
out  of  consideration.  For  though  the  development  of 
economic  rationalism  is  partly  dependent  on  rational 
technique  and  law,  it  is  at  the  same  time  determined 
by  the  ability  and  disposition  of  men  to  adopt  certain 
types  of  practical  rational  condudt.  When  these  types 
have  been  obstructed  by  spiritual  obstacles,  the 


development  of  rational  economic  conduct  has  also 
met  serious  inner  resistance.  The  magical  and  religious 
forces,  and  the  ethical  ideas  of  duty  based  upon  them, 
have  in  the  past  always  been  among  the  most  important 
formative  influences  on  conduct.  In  the  studies  collected 
here  we  shall  be  concerned  with  these  forces.^ 

Two  older  essays  have  been  placed  at  the  beginning 
whicE  attempt,  at  one  important  point,  to  approach  the 
side  of  the  problem  which  is  generally  most  difficult  to 
grasp:  the  influence  of  certain  religious  ideas  on  the 
development  of  aneconomic  spirit ,_or  the  eitte  of  an 
economic_system.  In  this  case  we  are  dealing  with  the 
connection  of  the  spirit  of  modern  economic  life  with 
the  rational  ethics  of  ascetic  Protestantism.  Thus  we 
treat  here  only  one  side  of  the  causal  chain.  The  later 
studies  on  the  Economic  Ethics  of  the  World  Religions 
attempt,  in  the  form  of  a  survey  of  the  relations  of  the 
most  important  religions  to  economic  life  and  to  the 
social  stratification  of  their  environment,  to  follow  out 
both  causal  relationships,  so  far  as  it  is  necessary  in 
order  to  find  points  of  comparison  with  the  Occidental 
development.  For  only  in  this  way  is  it  possible  to 
attempt  a  causal  evaluation  of  those  elements  of  the 
economic  ethics  of  the  Western  religions  which  differ- 
entiate them  from  others,  with  a  hope  of  attaining 
even  a  tolerable  degree  of  approximation.  Hence  these 
'  studies  do  not  claim  to  be  complete  analyses  of  cultures, 
however  brief.  On  the  contrary,  in  every  culture  they 
quite  deliberately  emphasize  the  elements  in  which  it 
differs  from  Western  civilization.  They  are,  hence, 
definitely  oriented  to  the  problems  which  seem  im- 
portant for  the  understanding  of  Western  culture  from 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

this  view-point.  With  our  object  in  view,  any  other 
procedure  did  not  seem  possible.  But  to  avoid  mis- 
understanding we  must  here  lay  special  emphasis  on 
the  limitation  of  our  purpose. 

In  another  respect  the  uninitiated  at  least  must  be 
warned  against  exaggerating  the  importance  of  these 
investigations.  The  Sinologist,  the  Indologist,  the 
Semitist,  or  the  Egyptologist,  will  of  course  find  no. 
facts  unknown  to  him.  We  only  hope  that  he  will  find 
nothing  definitely  wrong  in  points  that  are  essential. 
How  far  it  has  been  possible  to  come  as  near  this  ideal 
as  a  non-specialist  is  able  to  do,  the  author  cannot  know. 
It  is  quite  evident  that  anyone  who  is  forced  to  rely  on 
translations,  and  furthermore  on  the  use  and  evaluation 
of  monumental,  documentary,  or  literary  sources,  has 
to  rely  himself  on  a  specialist  literature  which  is  often 
highly  controversial,  and  the  merits  of  which  he  is 
unable  to  judge  accurately.  Such  a  writer  must  make 
modest  claims  for  the  value  of  his  work.  All  the  more 
so  since  the  number  of  available  translations  of  relal 
sources  (that  is,  inscriptions  and  documents)  is, 
especially  for  China,  still  very  small  in  comparison 
with  what  exists  and  is  important.  From  all  this  follows 
the  definitely  provisional  character  of  these  studies, 
and  especially  of  the  parts  dealing  with  Asia.^  Only  the 
specialist  is  entitled  to  a  final  judgment.  And,  naturally, 
it  is  only  because  expert  studies  with  this  special 
purpose  and  from  this  particular  view-point  have  not 
hitherto  been  made,  that  the  present  ones  have  been 
written  at  all.  They  are  destined  to  be  superseded  in  a 
much  more  important  sense  than  this  can  be  said,  as 
it  can  be,  of  all  scientific  work.  But  however  objection- 


able  it  may  be,  such  trespassing  on  other  special  fields 
cannot  be  avoided  in  comparative  work.  But  one  must 
take  the  consequences  by  resigning  oneself  to  con- 
siderable doubts  regarding  the  degree  of  one's  success. 

Fashion  and  the  zeal  of  the  literati  would  have 
us  think  that  the  specialist  can  to-day  be  spared,  or 
degraded  to  a  position  subordinate  to  that  of  the  seer. 
Almost  all  sciences  owe  something  to  dilettantes,  often 
very  valuable  view-points.  But  dilettantism  as  a  leading 
principle  would  be  the  end  of  science.  He  who  yearns 
for  seeing  should  go  to  the  cinema,  though  it  will  be 
offered  to  him  copiously  to-day  in  literary  form  in  the 
present  field  of  investigation  also.^®  Nothing  is  farther 
from  the  intent  of  these  thoroughly  serious  studies  than 
such  an  attitude.  And,  I  might  add,  whoever  wants  a 
sermon  should  go  to  a  conventicle.  The  question  of  the  ,^ 
elative  value  of  the  cultures  which  are  compared  herg/ 

not  receive  a  single  word.  It  is  true  that  the  path 
of  human  destiny  cannot  but  appall  him  who  surveys  a 
section  of  it.  But  he  will  do  well  to  keep  his  small 
personal  commentaries  to  himself,  as  one  does  at  the 
sight  of  the  sea  or  of  majestic  mountains,  unless  he 
knows  himself  to  be  called  and  gifted  to  give  them 
expression  in  artistic  or  prophetic  form.  In  most  other 
cases  the  voluminous  talk  about  intuition  does  nothing 
but  conceal  a  lack  of  perspective  toward  the  ob'ect, 
which  merits  the  same  judgment  as  a  similar  lack  of 
perspective  toward  men. 

Some  justification  is  needed  for  the  fact  that  ethno- 
graphical material  has  not  been  utilized  to  anything 
like  the  extent  which  the  value  of  its  contributions 
naturally  demands  in  any  really  thorough  investigation, 



The   Protestant    Ethic   and   the    Spirit    of   Capitalism 

especially  of  Asiatic  religions.  This  limitation  has  not 
only  been  imposed  because  human  powers  of  work  are 
restricted.  This  omission  has  also  seemed  to  be  per- 
missible because  we  are  here  necessarily  dealing  with 
the  religious  ethics  of  the  classes  which  were  the  culture- 
bearers  of  their  respective  countries.  We  are  concerned 
with  the  influence  which  their  conduct  has  had.  Now  it 
is  quite  true  that  this  can  only  be  completely  known  in 
all  its  details  when  the  facts  from  ethnography  and 
folk-lore  have  been  compared  with  it.  Hence  we  must 
expressly  admit  and  emphasize  that  this  is  a  gap  to 
which  the  ethnographer  will  legitimately  object.  I 
hope  to  contribute  something  to  the  closing  of  this 
gap  in  a  systematic  study  of  the  Sociology  of  Religion  .^^ 
But  such  an  undertaking  would  have  transcended  the 
limits  of  this  investigation  with  its  closely  circumscribed 
purpose.  It  has  been  necessary  to  be  content  with 
bringing  out  the  points  of  comparison  with  our  Occi- 
dental religions  as  well  as  possible. 

Finally,  we  may  make  a  reference  to  the  anthropo- 
logical side  of  the  problem.  When  we  find  again  and 
again  that,  even  in  departments  of  life  apparently 
mutually  independent,  certain  types  of  rationalization 
have  developed  in  the  Occident,  and  only  there,  it 
would  be  natural  to  suspect  that  the  most  important 
reason  lay  in  differences  of  heredity.  The  author  admits 
that  he  is  inclined  to  think  the  importance  of  biological 
heredity  very  great.  But  in  spite  of  the  notable  achieve- 
ments of  anthropological  research,  I  see  up  to  the 
present  no  way  of  exactly  or  even  approximately 
measuring  either  the  extent  or,  above  all,  the  form 
of  its  influence  on  the  development  investigated  here. 


It  must  be  one  of  the  tasks  of  sociological  and  historical 
investigation  first  to  analyse  all  the  influences  and 
causal  relationships  which  can  satisfactorily  be  ex- 
plained in  terms  of  reactions  to  environmental  condi- 
tions. Only  then,  and  when  comparative  racial 
neurology  and  psychology  shall  have  progressed  beyond 
their  present  and  in  many  ways  very  promising 
beginnings,  can  we  hope  for  even  the  probability  of  a 
satisfactory  answer  to  that  problem .^^  In  the  mean- 
time that  condition  seems  to  me  not  to  exist,  and  an 
appeal  to  heredity  would  therefore  involve  a  premature 
renunciation  of  the  possibility  of  knowledge  attainable 
now,  and  would  shift  the  problem  to  factors  (at  present) 
still  unknown. 


PART    I 



A  GLANCE  at  the  occupational  statistics  of  any  country 
bf  mixed  religious  composition  brings  to  light  with 
remarkable  frequency^  a  situation  which  has  several 
times  provoked  discussion  in  the  Catholic  press  and 
literature,^  and  in  Catholic  congresses  in  Germany, 
namely,  the  fact  that  business  leaders  and  owners  of 
capital,  as  well  as  the  higher  grades  of  skilled  labour, 
and  even  more  the  higher  technically  and  commercially 
trained  personnel  of  modem  enterprises,  are  over- 
whelmingly Protestant."*  This  is  true  not  only  in  cases 
where  the  difference  in  religion  coincides  with  one  of 
nationality,  and  thus  of  cultural  development,  as  in 
Eastern  Germany  between  Germans  and  Poles.  The 
same  thing  is  shown  in  the  figures  of  religious  affiliation 
almost  wherever  capitalism,  at  the  time  of  its  great 
expansion,  has  had  a  free  hand  to  alter  the  social 
distribution  of  the  population  in  accordance  with  its 
needs,  and  to  determine  its  occupational  structure. 
The  more  freedom  it  has  had,  the  more  clearly  is  the 
effect  shown.  It  is  true  that  the  greater  relative  par- 
ticipation of  Protestants  in  the  ownership  of  capital,^ 
in  management,  and  the  upper  ranks  of  labour  in  great 
modem  industrial  and  commercial  enterprises,®  may  in 
part  he  explained  in  terms  of  historical  circumstances' 
which  extend  far  back  into  the  past,  and  in  which 
religious  affiliation  is  not  a  cause  of  the  economicV 
conditions,  but  to  a  certain  extent  appears  to  be  a  result/ 

The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capita^    m 

^  of  them.  Participation  in  the  above  economic  funr  in 
^\  usually  involves  some  previous  ownership  of  c.'-  m 
and  generally  an  expensive  education ;  often  both.  T.  nesv. 
are  to-day  largely  dependent  on  the  possession  of  in- 
herited wealth,  or  at  least  on  a  certain  degree  of  material 
well-being.  A  number  of  those  sections  of  the  old 
Empire  which  were  most  highly  developed  economic- 
ally and  most  favoured  by  natural  resources  and 
situation,  in  particular  a  majority  of  the  wealthy  towns, 
went  over  to  Protestantism  in  the  sixteenth  century. 
The  results  of  that  circumstance  favour  the  Protestants 
even  to-day  in  their  struggle  for  economic  existence. 
There  arises  thus  the  historical  question :  why  were  the 
districts  of  highest  economic  development  at  the  same 
tnpe    particulprly    favniirablp    tn    a    rpvf>]i^finn    in    the 

Church  ?  The  answer  is  by  no  means  so  simple  as  one 
might  think. 

The    emancipation    from   economic    traditionalism 

appears,  no  doubt,  to  be  a  factor  which  would  greatly 

gfrfpg^^^"  ^hp  tpnHpncy  to  doubt  the  sanctity  ofthe 

religious  traditinn,  as  of  all  traditional  authoritiesQBut 

it  is  necessary  to  note,  what  has  often  been  forgotten, 

Ahat  the  Reformation   meant   not  the  elimination  of 

j  the  Churches  control  over  everyday  life,  but  ratherthe 

-J  substitution  of  a  new  form  of  control  for  the  previous 

'  one.  It  meant  the  repudiation  of  a  control  which  was 

Wery  lax,  at  that  time  scarcely  perceptible  in  practice, 

/   and  hardly  more  than  formal,  in  favour  of  a  regulation 

^\    of  the  whole   of  conduct  which,   penetrating  to   all 

>^       departments  of  private  and  public  life,  was  infinitely 

y/\   burdensome  and  earnestly  enforced])  The  rule  of  the 

I   Catholic  Church,  "punishing  the  heretic,  but  indulgent 


Religious  Affiliation  and  Social  Stratification 

^  the  sinner",  as  it  was  in  the  past  even  more  than 
0-day,  is  now  tolerated  by  peoples  of  thoroughly  modem 
economic  character,  and  was  borne  by  the  richest  and 
economically  most  advanced  peoples  on  earth  at  about 
the  turn  of  the  fifteenth  century.,  The^rule  of  Calvinism, 
on  the  other  hand,  as  it  was  enforced  in  the  sixteenth 
century  in  Geneva  and  in  Scotland,  at  the  turn  of  the 
sixteenth  and  seventeenth  centuries  in  large  parts  of 
the  Netherlands,  in  the  seventeenth  in  New  England, 
and  for  a  time  in  England  itself,  wouldbe^or  u&_the 
most  absolutely  unbearable  form  of  eccfcsiastical  con- 
trol of  the  individual  which  could  possibly  exist.  That 
was^xactly  what  largeliumberi~oF  the  old  commercial 
aristocracy  of  those  times,  in  Geneva  as  well  as  in 
Holland  and  England,  felt  about  it.  And  what  the 
reformers  complained  of  in  those  areas  of  high  eco- 
nomic development  was  not  too  much  supervision  of 
life  on  the  part  of  the  Church,  but  too  little  fNow  how 
does  it  happen  that  at  that  time  those  countries  which 
were  most  advanced  economically,  and  within  them 
the  rising  bourgeois  middle  classes,  not  only  failed  to 
resist  this  imexampled  tyranny  of  Puritanism,  but  even 
developed  a  heroism  in  its  defence.''  For  bourgeois 
classes  as  such  have  seldom  before  and  never  since 
displayed  heroism.  It  was  "the  last  of  our  heroisms",  as 
Carlyle,  not  without  reason,  has  said. 

But  further,  and  especially  important:  it  may  be,  as 
has  been  claimed,  that  the  greater  partiripatinn  _q£ 
Protestants  injhe^positions  of  ownership  andLmanag&r 
ment  in  modern  economic^jife^may  to-day  be  under- 
stood, in  part  at  least,  simply  as  a^e^lt  of  thegreater 
matemTwealth^J^yllE^fc  inherited,.   But   there   are 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and  the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

certain  other  phenomena  which  cannot  be  explained  in 
the  same  way.  Thus,  to  mention  only  a  few  facts: 
there  is  a  great  difference  discoverable  in  Baden,  in 
Bavaria,  in  Hungary,,  in  the  type  of  higher  education 
which  Catholic  parents,  as  opposed  to  Protestant,  give 
their  children.  That  the  percentage  of  Catholics  among 
the  students  and  graduates  of  higher  educational 
institutions  in  general  lags  behind  their  proportion  of 
the  total  population,^ .may,  to  be  sure,  be  largely 
explicable  in  terms  o^  inherited  differences  of  wealth. 
But  among  the  Catholic  graduates  themselves  the  per- 
centage of  those  graduating  from  the  institutions  pre- 
paring, in  particular,  for  technical  studies  and  industrial 
and  commercial  occupations,  but  in  general  from  those 
preparing  for  middle-class  business  life,  lags  still 
farther  behind  the  percentage  of  Protestants.^  On  the 
other  hand.  Catholics  prefer  the  sort  of  training  which 
the  humanistic  Gymnasium  affords.  That  is  a  circum- 
stance to  which  the  above  explanation  does  not  apply, 
but  which,  on  the  contrary,  is  one  reason  why  so  few 
Catholics  are  engaged  in  capitalistic  enterprise. 

Even  more  striking  is  a  fact  which  partly  explains 
the  smaller  proportion  of  Catholics  among  the  skilled 
labourers  of  modern  industry.  It  is  well  known  that- 
the  factory  has  taken  its  skilled  labour  to  a  large  extent 
from  young  men  in  the  handicrafts ;  but  this  is  much 
more  true  of  Protestant  than  of  Catholic  journeymen. 
Among  journeymen,  in  other  words,  the  Catholics 
show  a  stronger  propensity  to  remain  in  their  crafts, 
that  is  they  more  often  become  master  craftsmen, 
whereas  the  Protestants  are  attracted  to  a  larger  extent 
into  the  factories  in  order  to  fill  the  upper  ranjcs  of 


Religious  Affiliation  and  Social  Stratification 

skilled  labour  and  administrative  positions.^®  The 
explanation  of  these  cases  is  undoubtedly  that  the 
mental  and  spiritual  peculiarities  acquired  from  the 
environment,  here  the  type  of  education  favoured  by 
the  religious  atmosphefe^Tlhe^ome  community  and 
the_girehtal  home,  have  determined  the  choice  of 
occupation,  and  through  i^he  protessional  career. 

The  smaller  participation  of  Catholics  in  the  modern 
business  life  of  Germany  is  all  the  more  striking  because 
it  runs  counter  to  a  tendency  which  has  been  observed 
at  all  times  ^^  including  the  present.  National  or 
religious  minorities  which  are  in  a  position  of  sub- 
ordination to  a  group  of  rulers  are  likely,  through  their 
voluntary  or  involuntary  exclusion  from  positions  of 
political  influence,  to  be  driven  with  peculiar  force  into 
economic  activity.  Their  ablest  members  seek  to  satisfy 
the  desire  for  recognition  of  their  abilities  in  this  field, 
since  there  is  no  opportunity  in  the  service  of  the 'State. 
This  has  undoubtedly  been  true  of  the  Poles  in  Russia 
and  Eastern  Prussia,  who  have  without  question  been 
undergoing  a  more  rapid  economic  advance  than  in 
Galicia,  where  they  have  been  in  the  ascendant.  It  has 
in  earlier  times  been  true  of  the  Huguenots  in  France 
under  Louis  XIV,  the  Nonconformists  and  Quakers  in 
England,  and,  last  but  not  least,  the  Jew  for  two 
thousand  years.  But  the  Catholics  in  Germany  have 
shown  no  striking  evidence  of  such  a  result  of  their 
position.  In  the  past  they  have,  unlike  the  Protestants, 
undergone  no  particularly  prominent  economic  devel- 
opment in  the  times  when  they  were  persecuted  or 
only  tolerated,  either  in  Holland  or  in  England.  On 
the  other  hand,  it  is  a  fact  that  the  Protestants  (especi- 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

ally  certain  branches  of  the  movement  to  be  fully 
discussed  later)  both  as  ruling  classes  and  sis  ruled, 
both  as  majority  and  as  minority,  have  shown  a  spc^idi 

<.^^tendency  to  develop  economic  rationalism  v^hich 
cannot  be  observed  to  the  same  extent  among  Catholics 
either  in  the  one  situation  or  in  the  other  .^^  Thus  the 
principal  explanation  of  this  difference  must  be  sought 
in  the  permanent  intrinsic  character  of  their  religious 
beliefs,   and   not   only   in   their   temporary   external 

xl  j   historico-political  situations.^* 

It  will  be  our  task  to  investigate  these  religions  with 
a  view  to  finding  out  what  peculiarities  they  have  or 
have  had  which  might  have  resulted  in  the  behaviour 
we  have  described.  On  superficial  analysis,  and  on  the 
basis  of  certain  current  impressions,  one  might  be 
tempted  to  express  the  diflference  by  saying  that  the 
greater  other- worldliness  of  Catholicism,  the  ascetic 
character  of  its  highest  ideals,  must  have  brought  up 
its  adherents  to  a  greater  indifference  toward  the  good 
things  of  this  world.  Such  an  explanation  fits  the 
popular  tendency  in  the  judgment  of  both  religions. 
On  the  Protestant  side  it  is  used  as  a  basis  of  criticism 
of  those  (real  or  imagined)  ascetic  ideals  of  the  Catholic 
way  of  life,  while  the  Catholics  answer  with  the 
accusation  that  materialism  results  from  the  seculariza- 
tion of  all  ideals  through  Protestantism.  One  recent 
writer  has  attempted  to  formulate  the  difference  of 
their  attitudes  toward  economic  life  in  the  following 
manner:  "The  Catholic  is  quieter,  having  less  of  the 
acquisitive  impulse;  he  prefers  a  life  of  the  greatest 
possible  security,  even  with  a  smaller  income,  to  a  life 
of  risk  and  excitement,  even  though  it  may  bring  the 

Religions  Affiliation  and  Social  Stratification 

chance  of  gaining  honour  and  riches.  The  proverb  says 
jokingly,  ^either  eat  well  or  sleep  wellLJn  the  present 
case  the  Protestant  prefers  to  eat  well,  the  Catholic  to 
sleep  undisturbed.**^^  — ► 

In  fact,  this  desire  to  eat,^^!  may_J]>e-^  correct 
though  incomplete  characterization  of  the  motives  of 
many  nominal  Protestants  in  Germany  at  the  present 
time..  But  things  were  very  different  in  the  past:  the 
English,  Dutch,  and  American  Puritans  were  charac- 
terized by  the  exact  opposite  of  the  joy  of  living,  a 
fact  which  is  indeed,  as  we  shall  see,  most  im- 
portant for  our  present  study.  Moreover,  the  French 
Protestants,  among  others,  long  retained,  and  retain  to 
a  certain  extent  up  to  the  present,  the  characteristics 
which  were  impressed  upon  the  Calvinistic  Churches 
everywhere,  especially  under  the  cros«  in  the  time  of 
the  religious  struggles.  Nevertheless  (or  was  it,  perhaps, 
as  we  shall  ask  later,  precisely  on  that  account?)  it  is 
well  known  th^t  these  characteristics  were  one  of  the 
most  important  factors  in  the  industrial  and  capital- 
istic development  of  France,  and  on  the  small  scale 
permitted  them  by  their  persecution  remained  so.  If 
we  may  call  this  seriousness  and  the  strong  predomi- 
nance of  religious  interests  in  the  whole  conduct  of  life 
otherworldliness,  then  the  French  Calvinists  were  and 
still  are  at  least  as  otherworldly  as,  for  instance,  the 
North  German  Catholics,  to  whom  their  Catholicism  is 
undoubtedly  as  vital  a  matter  as  religion  is  to  any  other 
people  in  the  world.  Both  differ  from  the  predominant 
religious  trends  in  their  respective  countries  in  much 
the  same  way.  The  Catholics  of  France  are,  in  their 
lower  ranks,  greatly  interested  in  the  enjoyment  of  life, 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and    the    Spirit   of   Capitalism 

in  the  upper  directly  hostile  to  religion.  Similarly,  the  | 
Protestants  of  Germany  are  to-day  absorbed  in  worldly 
economic  lif^,  and  their  upper  ranks  are  most  indifferent 
to  religion. ^^j)Hardly  anything  shows  so  clearly  as  this 
parallel  that,  with  such  vague  ideas  as  that  of  the 
alleged  other\vorldliness  of  Catholicism,  and  the  alleged 
materialistic  joy  of  living  of  Protestantism,  and  others 
like  them,  nothing  can  be  accomplished  for  our  pur- 
pose. In  such  general  terms  the  distinction  does  not 
even  adequately  fit  the  facts  of  to-day,  and  certainly  not 
of  the  past.  If,  however,  one  wishes  to  make  use  of  it 
at  all,  several  other  observations  present  themselves  at 
once  which,  combined  with  the  above  remarks,  suggest 
that  the  supposed  conflict  between  other- worldliness, 
asceticism,  and  ecclesiastical  piety  on  the  one  side,  and 
participation  in  capitalistic  acquisition  on  the  other, 
might  actually  turn  out  to  be  an  intimate  relationship. 

As  a  matter  of  fact  it  is  surely  remarkable,  to  begin 
with  quite  a  superficial  observation,  how  large  is  the 
number  of  representatives  ojfjhejnost^jpiritual  forms 
pf  Christian  _pifiJty-whQ  Jiaye  s^rung^rom  comme^jal 
jcircles^.  In  particular,  very  many  of  the  most  zealous 
adherents  of  Pietism  are  of  this  origin.  It  might  be 
explained  as  a  sort  of  reaction  against  mammonism  on 
the  part  of  sensitive  natures  not  adapted  to  commercial 
life,  and,  as  in  the  case  of  Francis  of  Assisi.  many 
Pietists  have  themselves  interpreted  the  process  of 
their  conversion  in  these  terms.  Similarly,  the  remark- 
able circumstance  that  so  many  of  the  greatest  capital- 
istic entrepreneurs — down  to  Cecil  Rhodes — have  come 
from  clergymen's  families  might  be  explained  as  a 
reaction  against  their  ascetic  upbringing.  But  this 

Religious  Affiliation  and  Social  Stratification 

form  of  explanation  fails  where  an  extraordinary 
capitalistic  business  sense  is  combined  in  the  same 
persons  and  groups  with  the  most  intensive  forms  of  a 
piety  which  penetrates  and  dominates  their  whole  lives. 
Such  cases  are  not  isolated,  but  these  traits  are  charac- 
teristic of  many  of  the  most  important  Churches  and 
sects  in  the  history  of  Protestantism.  Especially 
Calvinism,  wherever  it  has  appeared,^®  has  shown 
;:his  combination.  However  little,  in  the  time  of  the 
expansion  of  the  Reformation,  it  (or  any  other  Protest- 
ant belief)  was  bound  up  with  any  particular  social 
class,  it  is  characteristic  and  in  a  certain  sense  typical 
that  in  French  Huguenot  Churches  monks  and  business 
men  (merchants,  craftsmen)  were  particularly  numer- 
ous among  the  proselytes,  especially  at  the  time  of  the 
persecution.^'^  Even  the  Spaniards  knew  that  heresy 
(i.e.  the  Calvinism  of  the  Dutch)  promoted  trade,  and 
this  coincides  with  the  opinions  which  Sir  William 
Petty  expressed  in  his  discussion  of  the  reasons  for  the 
capitalistic  development  of  the  Netherlands.  Gothein  ^^ 
rightly  calls  the  Calvinistic  diaspora  the  seed-bed  of 
capitalistic  economy .^^  Even  in  this  case  one  might'' 
consider  the  decisive  factor  to  be  the  superiority  of  the 
French  and  Dutch  economic  cultures  from  which  these 
communities  sprang,  or  perhaps  the  immense  influence 
of  exile  in  the  breakdown  of  traditional  relationships  .^^^ 
But  in  France  the  situation  was,  as  we  know  from 
Colbert's  struggles,  the  same  even  in  the  seventeenth 
century.  Even  Austria,  not  to  speak  of  other  countries, 
directly  imported  Protestant  craftsmen. 
I  But  not  all  the  Protestant  denominations  seem  to 
have  had  an  equally  strong  influence  in  this  direction.  / 


The   Protestant    Ethic    and   the    Spirit   of   Capitalism 

That  of  Calvinism,  even  in  Germany,  was  among  the 
strongest,  it  seems,  and  the  reformed  faith ^^  more 
than  the  others  seems  to  have  promoted  the  develop- 
ment of  the  spirit  of  capitalism,  in  the  Wupperthal  as 
well  as  elsewhere.  Much  more  so  than  Lutheranism, 
as  comparison  both  in  general  and  in  particular 
instances,  especially  in  the  Wupperthal,  seems  to 
prove .22  por  Scotland,  Buckle,  and  among  English 
poets,  Keats,  have  emphasized  these  same  relation- 
ships.^^  Even  more  striking,  as  it  is  only  necessary  to 
mention,  is  the  connection  of  a  religious  way  of  life  with 
the  most  intensive  development  of  business  acumen 
among  those  sects  whose  otherworldliness  is  as 
proverbial  as  their  wealth,  especially  the  Quakers  and 
the  Mennonites.  The  part  which  the  former  have 
played  in  England  and  North  America  fell  to  the  latter 
in  Germany  and  the  Netherlands.  That  in  East  Prussia 
Frederick  William  I  tolerated  the  Mennonites  as  in- 
dispensable to  industry,  in  spite  of  their  absolute 
refusal  to  perform  military  service,  is  only  one  of  the 
numerous  well-known  cases  which  illustrates  the  fact, 
though,  considering  the  character  of  that  monarch, 
it  is  one  of  the  most  striking.  Finally,  that  this  com- 
bination of  intense  piety  with  just  as  strong  a  develop- 
ment of  business  acumen,  was  also  characteristic  of 
the  Pietists,  is  common  knowledge .^^ 

It  is  only  necessary  to  think  of  the  Rhine  country 
and  of  Calw.  In  this  purely  introductory  discussion 
it  is  unnecessary  to  pile  up  more  examples.  For  these 
few  already  all  show  one  thing:, 'that  the  spirit  of  hard 
work,  of  progress,  or  whatever  else  it  may  be  called, 
the  awakening  of  which  one  is  inclined  to  ascribe  to 


Religious  Affiliation  and  Social  Stratification 

Protestantism,  must  not  be  understood,  as  there  is  a 
tendency  to  do,  as  joy  of  living  nor  in  any  other  sense  < 
as  connected  with  the  EnHghtenment.  The_old_Protest-! 
antismof^Luther,  Calvin,  Knox,  Voet,  had  _Brecious 
ligipjn^  with  what  fo-day  is  called  progress.  To  whole 
agpprfgnf  nnndern  life  which  the  most  extreme  re- 
ligionist^  would  not  wish  to  suppress  to-day^  it  was 
directly  hostile.  If  any  innerrelationship  between  certain 
expressions  of  the  old  Protestant  spirit  and  modern 
capitalistic  culture  is  to  be  found,  we  must  attempt  to 
find  it,  for  better  or  worse,  not  in  its  alleged  more  or 
less  materialistic  or  at  least  anti-ascetic  joy  of  living. 
but  in  its  purely  religious  characteristics.  Montesquieu 
says  {Esprit  des  Lois,  Book  XX,  chap.  7)  of  the  English 
that  they  "had  progressed  the  farthest  of  all  peoples 
of  the  world  in  three  important  things:  in  piety,  in 
commerce,  and  in  freedom".  Is  it  not  possible  »that  their 
commercial  superiority  and  their  adaptation  to  free 
political  institutions  are  connected  in  someway  with  that 
record  of  piety  which  Montesquieu  ascribes  to  them  ? 

A  large  number  of  possible  relationships,  vaguely 
perceived,  occur  to  us  when  we  put  the  question  in 
this  way.  It  will  now  be  our  task  to  formulate  what 
•occurs  to  us  confusedly  as  clearly  as  is  possible,  con- 
•sidering  the  inexhaustible  diversity  to  be  found  in  all 
historical  material.  But  in  order  to  do  this  it  is  necessary' 
to  leave  behind  the  vague  and  general  concepts  with 
which  we  have  dealt  up  to  this  point,  and  attempt  to 
penetrate  into  the  peculiar  characteristics  of  and  the 
differences  between  those  great  worlds  of  religious 
thought  which  have  existed  historically  in  the  various 
branches  of  Christianity. 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

Before  we  can  proceed  to  that,  however,  a  few 
remarks  are  necessary,  first  on  the  pecuHarities  of  the 
phenomenon  of  which  we  are  seeking  an  historical 
explanation,  then  concerning  the  sense  in  which  such 
an  explanation  is  possible  at  all  within 'the  limits  of 
these  investigations. 




In  the  title  of  this  study  is  used  the  somewhat  pre- 
tentious phrase,  the  spirit  of  capitaHsm.  ^vVhat  is  to  be 
understood  by  it?  The  attempt  to  give,  anything  Hke 
a  definition  of  it  brings  out  certain  difficulties  which 
are  in  the  very  nature  of  this  type  of  investigation. 

If  any  object  can  be  found  to  which  this  term  can 
be  applied  with  any  understandable  meaning,  it  can 
only  be  an  historical  individual,  i.e.  a  complex  of 
elements  associated  in  historical  reality  which  we  unite 
into  a  conceptual  whole  from  the  standpoint  of  their 
cultural  significance. 

Such  an  historical  concept,  however,  since  it  refers 
in  its  content  to  a  phenomenon  significant  for  its  unique 
individuality,  cannot  be  defined  according  to  the 
formula  genus  proximum,  differentia  specifica,  but  it 
must  be  gradually  put  together  out  of  the  individual 
parts  which  are  taken  from  historical  reality  to  make  it 
up.  Thus  the  final  and  defimitive  concept  cannot  stand 
at  the  beginning  of  the  investigation,  but  must  come  at 
the  end.  We  must,  in  other  words,  work  out  in  the 
course  of  the  discussion,  as  its  most  important  result, 
the  best  conceptual  formulation  of  what  we  here  under- 
stand by  the  spirit  of  capitalism,  that  is  the  best  from 
the  point  of  view  which  interests  us  here.  This  point  of 
view  (the  one  of  which  we  shall  speak  later)  is,  further, 
by  no  means  the  only  possible  one  from  which  the 
historical  phenomena  we  are  investigating  can  be 
analysed.  Other  standpoints  would,  for  this  as  for  every 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

historical  phenomenon,  yield  other  characteristics  as 
the  essential  ones.  The  result  is  that  it  is  by  no  means 
,  necessary  to  understand  by  the  spirit  of  capitalism  only 
what  it  will  come  to  mean  to  us  for  the  purposes  of  our 
analysis.  This  is  a  necessary  result  of  the  nature  of 
historical  com'::epts  which  attempt  for  their  methodo- 
logical purposves  not  to  grasp  historical  reality  in 
abstract  general  formulae,  but  in  concrete  genetic  sets 
of  relations  whicli  are  inevitably  of  a  specifically  unique 
and  individual  character.^ 

Thus,  if  we  try  to  determine  the  object,  the  analysis 
and  historical  explanation  of  which  we  are  attempting, 
it  cannot  be  in  the  form  of  a  conceptual  definition,  but 
at  least  in  the  beginning  only^  provisional  description 
of  what  is  here  meant  by  the  spirit  of  capitalism.  Such 
a  description  is,  however,  indispensable  in  order  clearly 
to  understand  the  object  of  the  investigation.  For  this 
purpose  we  turn  to  a  d'ocument  of  that  s^irit^which 
contains__what  we  are  looking  for  in  almost  classical 
purity,  and  at  the^ämeTir/n^^Käs"  theliH^^tag  of  being 
free  from  all  direct  relationship  to  religion,  being  thus, 
for  our  purposesyfree  of  pf^cönceptions7~^ 

I       "Remember,  that  time  is  money.  He  that  can  earn 

'    ten  shillings  a  day  by  his  labour,  and  goes  abroad,  or 

/     sits  idle,  one  half  of  that  day,  though  he  spends  but 

I     sixpence  during  his  diversion  or  idleness,  ought  not  to 

\    reckon  that  the  only  expense;  he  has  really  spent,  or 

\  rather  thrown  away,  five  shillings  besides. 

"Remember,  that  credit  is  money.  If  a  man  lets  his 
money  lie  in  my  hands  after  it  is  due,  he  gives  me  the 
interest,  or  so  much  as  I  can  n:\ake  of  it  during  that 


The  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

time.  This  amounts  to  a  considerable  sum  where  a  man 
has  good  and  large  credit,  and  makes  good  use  of  it. 
"Remember,  that  money  is  of  the  prolific,  generating 

nature.  Money  can  beget  rrioney,  and  its  offspring  can 

beget  more,  and  so  on.  Five  shillings  turned  is  six, 
turned  again  it  is  seven  and  threepence,  and  so  on,  till 
it  becomes  a  hundred  pounds.  The  more  there  is  of  it, 
the  more  it  produces  every  turning,  so  that  the  profits 
rise  quicker  and  quicker.  He  that  kills  a  breeding-sow, 
destroys  all  her  offspring  to  the  thousandth  generation. 
He  that  murders  a  crown,  destroys  all  that  it  might/ 
have  produced,  even  scores  of  pounds." 

"Remember  this  saying.  The  good  paymaster  is  lord^JL\ 
^lanother  mail's  purse.  He  that  is  known  to  pay  punctu- 
ally and  exactly  to  the  time  he  promises,  may  at  any 
time,  and  on  any  occasion,  raise  all  the  money  his 
friends  can  spare.  This  is  sometimes  of  great  use. 
After  industry  and  frugality,  nothing  contributes  more 
to  the  raising  of  a  young  man  in  the  world  than  punctu- 
ality and  justice  in  all  his  dealings;  therefore  never 
keep  borrowed  money  an  hour  beyond  the  time  you 
promised,  lest  a_disappointment  shut  up  youtiriend!s^  | 
purse  for  ever. 

"The  most  trifling  actions  that  affect  a  man's  credit 
are  to  be  regarded.  The  sound  of  your  hammer  at  five 
in  the  morning,  or  eight  at  night,  heard  by  a  creditor, 
makes  him  easy  six  months  longer;  but  if  he  sees  you 
at  a  billiard-table,  or  hears  your  voice  at  a  tavern,  when 
you  should  be  at  work,  he  sends  for  his  money  the  next 
day;  demands  it,  before  he  can  receive  it,  in  a  lump. 

"It  shows,  besides,  that  you  are  mindful  of  what  you  | 

49    ~ 

The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

owe ;  it  makes  you  appear  a  careful  as  well  as  an  honest 
man,  and  that  still  increases  your  credit. 

"Beware  of  thinking  all  your  own  that  you  possess, 
and  of  living  accordingly.  It  is  a  mistake  that  many 
people  who  have  credit  fall  into.  To  prevent  this,  keep 
an  exact  account  for  some  time  both  of  your  expenses 
and  your  income.  If  you  take  the  pains  at  first  to 
mention  particulars,  it  will  have  this  good  effect:  you 
will  discover  how  wonderfully  small,  trifling  expenses 
mount  up  to  large  sums,  and  will  discern  what  might 
have  been,  and  may  for  the  future  be  saved,  without 
occasioning  any  great  inconvenience." 

"For  six  pounds  a  year  you  may  have  the  use  of  one 

hundred  pounds,  provided  you  are  a  man  of  known 

prudence  and  honesty. 

"He  that  spends  a  groat  a  day  idly,  spends  idly  above 

S  six  pounds  a  year,  which  is  the  price  for  the  use  of  one 

J  hundred  pounds. 

4       "He  that  wastes  idly  a  groat's  worth  of  his  time 

?r  per  day,  one  day  with  another,  wastes  the  privilege  of 

^  using  one  hundred  pounds  each  day. 

"^       "He  that  idly  loses  five  shillings'  worth  of  time, 

^  loses  five  shillings,  and  might  as  prudently  throw  five 

J  shillings  into  the  sea. 
"He  that  loses  five  shillings,  not  only  loses  that  sum, 
but  all  the  advantage  that  might  be  made  by  turning  it 
in  dealing,  which  by  the  time  that  a  young  man  becomes 
old,  will  amount  to  a  considerable  sum  of  money."  ^ 

It  is  Benjamin  Ferdinand  who  preaches  to  us  in  these 
sentences,   the    same   which    Ferdinand    Kiirnberger 


The  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

satirizes  in  his  clever  and  malicious  Picture  of  American 
Culture^  as  the  supposed  confession  of  faith  of  the 
Yankee.  That  it  is  the  spirit  of  capitaHsm  which  here 
speaks  in  characteristic  fashion,  no  one  will  doubt, 
however  little  we  may  wish  to  claim  that  everything 
which  could  be  understood  as  pertaining  to  that 
spirit  is  contained  in  it.  Let  us  pause  a  moment  to 
consider  this  passage,  the  philosophy  of  which  Kürn- 
berger  sums  up  in  the  words,  "They  make  tallow  out 
of  cattle  and  money  out  of  men".  The  peculiarity  of 
this  philosophy  of.^l^variCe  appears  to  be  the  ideal  of 
the  honest  man  of  recognized  credit,  and  above  all  the 
idea  of  a  duty  of  the  individual  toward  the  increase  of 
_his  capital,  which  is  assumed  as  an  end  in  itself.  Truly 
what  is  here  preached  is  not  simply  a  means  of  making 
one*s  way  in  the  world,  but  a  peculiar  ethic.  The 
infraction  of  its  rules  is  treated  not  äs  foolishness  but 
as  forgetfulness  of  duty.  That  is  the  essence  of  the 
matter.  It  is  not  mere  business  astuteness,  that  sort  of 
thing  is  common  enough,  it  is  an  ethos.  This  is  the 
quality  which  interests  us. 

When  Jacob  Fugger,  in  speaking  to  a  business 
associate  who  had  retired  and  who  wanted  to  persuade 
him  to  do  the  same,  since  he  had  made  enough  money 
and  should  let  others  have  a  chance,  rejected  that  as 
pusillanimity  and  answered  that  "he  (Fugger)  thought 
otherwise,  he  wanted  to  make  money  as  long  as  he 
could ",^  the  spirit  of  his  statement  is  evidently  quite 
different  from  that  of  Franklin.  What  in  the  former 
case  was  an  expression  of  commercial  daring  and  a 
personal  inclination  morally  neutral,^  in  the  latter 
takes  on  the  character  of  anr  ethically  coloured  maxim 


The  'Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

for  the  conduct  of  life.  The  concept  spirit  of  capitaHsm 
is  here  used  in  this  specific  sense,^  it  is  the  spirit 
of  modern  capitaHsm.  For  that  we  are  here  deahng 
only  with  Western  European  and  American  capitalism 
is  obvious  from  the  way  in  which  the  problem  was 
stated.  Capitalism  existed  in  China,  India,  Babylon,  in 
the  classic  world,  and  in  the  Middle  Ages.  But  in  all  these 
cases,  as  we  shall  see,  this  particular  ethos  was  lacking. 
Now,  all  Franklin's  moral  attitudes  are  coloured 
with  utilitarianism.  Honesty  is  useful,  because  it 
assures  credit;  so  are  punctuality,  industry,  frugality, 
and  that  is  the  reason  they  are  virtues.  A  logical 
deduction  from  this  would  be  that  where,  for  instance, 
the  appearance  of  honesty  serves  the  same  purpose, 
that  would  suffice,  and  an  unnecessary  surplus  of  this 
virtue  would  evidently  appear  to  Franklin's  eyes  as 
unproductive  waste.  And  as  a  matter  of  fact,  the  story 
in  his  autobiography  of  his  conversion  to  those 
virtues,'  or  the  discussion  of  the  value  of  a  strict 
maintenance  of  the  appearance  of  modesty,  the  assidu- 
ous belittlement  of  one's  own  deserts  in  order  to  gain 
general  recognition  later ,^  confirms  this  impression. 
According  to  Franklin,  those  virtues,  like  all  others,  are 
only  in  so  far  virtues  as  they  are  actuallv  useful  to  the 
individual,  and  the  surrogate  of  mere  appearance  is 
always    gnfpjfiVnf  when    it   accomplishes  ^e    end    in 

view.  It   ij,  a   rnnrlnrinn    tt  liii  1i    ij.   iiiHl'ilnhlH    far   «Irirt 

Utilitarianism.  The  impression  of  many  Oemaans  that 
the  virtues  professed  by  Americanism  are  pureJ^ypo- 
crisy  seems  to  have  been  confirmed  by  this  striking  case. 
But  in  fact  the  matter  is  not  by  any  means  so  simple. 
Benjamin  Franklin's  own  character,  as  it  appears  in 

The  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

the  really  unusual  candidness  of  his  autobiography, 
belies  that  suspicion.  The  circumstance  that  he  ascribes 
his  recognition  of  the  utility  of  virtue  to  a  divine 
revelation  which  was  intended  to  lead  him  in  the  path 
of  righteousness,  shows  that  something  more  than  mere 
garnishing  for  purely  egocentric  motives  is  involved. 

vjn  fact,  the  summum  bonum  of  this  ethic,  the  earning 
of  more  and  more  money,  combined  with  the  strict 
avoidance  of  all  spontaneous  enjoyment  of  life,  is 
above  all  completely  devoid  of  any  eudasmonistic,  not 
to  say  hedonistic,  admixture.  It  is  thought  of  so  purely ^^>t^ 
as  an  end  in  itself,  that  from  the  point  of  view  of  the 
happiness  of,  or  utility  to,  the  single  individual,  it 
appears  entirely  transcendental  and  absolutely  irra- 
tional.^Man  is  dominated  by  the  making  of  money, 
by  acquisition  as  the  ultimate  purpose  of  his  life. 
"T)conomic  acquisition  is  no  longer  subordinated  to^:^,;^ 
man  as  the  means  for  the  satisfaction  of  his  material  f;i 
needs.  This  reversal  of  what  we  should  call  the  natural 
relationship,  so  irrational  from  a  naive  point  of  view,  is 
evidently  as  definitely  a  leading  principle  of  capitalism 
as  it  is  foreign  to  all  peoples  not  under  capitalistic 
influence.  At  the  same  time  it  expresses  a  type  of 
feeling  which  is  closely  connected  with  certain  religious 
ideas.  If  we  thus  ask,  why  should  ''money  be  made  out 
of  men",  Benjamin  Franklin  himself,  although  he  was 
a  colourless  deist,  answers  in  his  autobiography  with  a 
quotation  from  the  Bible,  which  his  strict  Calvinistic 
father  drummed  into  him  again  and  again  in  his  youth : 
'*Seest  thou  a  man  diligent  in  his  busjiiess.'*  He  shall 
stand  before  kings"  (Prov.  xxii.  29).  |The  earning  of 
money  within  the  modern  economic  order  is,  so  long 



The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

;  ,as  it  is  done  legally,  the  result  and  the  expression  of 
(  virtu^andproficiencYJn  a  calling  J  and  this  virtue  and 
proficiency  are,  as  it  is  now  not  difficult  to  see,  the 
real  Alpha  and  Omega  of  Franklin's  ethic,  as  expressed 
in  the  passages  we  have  quoted,  as  well  as  in  all  his 
works  without  exception  .^^ 

And  in  truth  this  peculiar  idea,  so  familiar  to  us 
to-day,  but  in  reality  so  little  a  matter  of  course,  of 
one's  duty  in  a  calling,  is  what  is  most  characteristic 
of  the[ßocial  ethic  of  capitalistic  culture/  and  is  in  a 
sense  the  fundamental  basis  of  it.  It  is  an  obligation 
which  the  individual  is  supposed  to  feel  and  does  feel 
towards  the  content  of  his  professional^^  activity,  no 
matter  in  what  it  consists,  in  particular  no  matter 
whether  it  appears  on  the  surface  as  a  utilization  of 
his  personal  powers,  or  only  of  his  material  possessions 
(as  capital). 

Of  course,  this  conception  has  not  appeared  only 
under  capitalistic  conditions.  On  the  contrary,  we  shall 
later  trace  its  origins  back  to  a  time  previous  to  the  ad- 
vent of  capitalism.  Still  less,  naturally,  do  we  maintain 
that  a  conscious  acceptance  of  these  ethical  maxims  on 
the  part  of  the  individuals,  entrepreneurs  oj  labourers, 
in  modern  capitalistic  enterprises,  is  a  condition  of 
the  further  existence  of  present-day  capitalisnaJwThe 
^  I  capitalistic  economy  of  the  present  day  is  an  immense 
\  cosmos  into  which  the  individual  is  born,  and  which 
presents  itself  to  him,  at  least  as  an  individual,  as  an 
unalterable  order  of  things  in  which  he  must  live.  It 
forces  the  individual,  in  so  far  as  he  is  involved  in  the 
system  of  market  relationships,  to  conform  to  capital- 
istic rules  of  action.  The  manufacturer  who  in  the  long 


The  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

run  acts  counter  to  these  norms,  will  just  as  inevit 
be  eliminated  from  the  economic  scene  as  the  woi 
who  cannot  or  will  not  adapt  himself  to  them  will  be 
thrown  into  the  streets  without  a  job.  —       ^ 

Thus  the  capitalism  of  to-day,  which  has  come  to 
dominate  economic  life,  educates  and  selects  the 
economic  subjects  which  it  needs  through  a  process  of 
economic  survival  of  the  fittest.  But  here  one  can  easily^ 
see  the  limits  of  the  concept  of  selection  as  a  means  of 
historical  explanation^Aln  order  that  a  manner  of  life  so 
well  adapted  to  the  peculiarities  of  capitalism  could  be 
selected  at  all,  i.e.  should  come  to  dominate  others,  it 
had  to  originate  somewhere,  and  not  in  isolated  indi- 
viduals alone,  but  as  a  way  of  life  common  to  whole 
groups  of  men.lThisorigin  is  what  really  needs  explana- 
tion. Concerning  the  doctrine  of  the  more  naive  his- 
torical materialism,  that  such  ideas  originate  as  a  \ 
reflection  or  superstructure  of  economic  situations,  we  \ 
shall  speak  more  in  detail  below.  At  this  point  it  will 
suffice  for  our  purpose  to  call  attention  to  the  fact  that 
without  doubt,  in  the  country  of  Benjamin  Franklin's 
birth  (Massachusetts),  the  spirit  of  capitalism  (in  the 
sense  we  have  attached  to  it)  was  present  before  the 
capitalistic  order.  There  were  complaints  of  a  peculiarly 
calculating  sort  of  profit-seeking  in  New  England,  as 
distinguished  from  other  parts  of  America,  as  early  as 
1632.  It  is  further  undoubted  that  capitalism  remained 
far  less  developed  in  some  of  the  neighbouring  colonies, 
the   later   Southern    States   of  the   United  States   of 

America,  in  spite of  the  fact  that_,these  latter  were  '  ^^ 

founded  by  large  capitalists  for  business  motives,  while '^  ^ 
the  New  England  colonies^ereTounded  by  preachers/  _ 



The   Protestant    Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

and  seminary  graduates  with  the  help  of  small  bour- 
geois, craftsmen  and  yoemen,  for  religious  reasons.  In 
this  case  the  causal  relation  is  certainly  the  reverse  of 
t^at  suggested  by  the  materialistic  standpointj 
^!5ut  the  origin  and  history  of  such  ideas  is. «lucli 
more  complex  than  the  theorists  of  the  supeßflWfcture 
suppose.  The  spirit  of  capitalism,  in  the  sense  in  which 
we  are  using  the  term,  had  to  fight  its  way  to  supremacy 
against  a  whole  world  of  hostile  forces.  A  state  of  mind 
such  as  that  expressed  in  the  passages  we  have  quoted 
from  Franklin,  and  which  called  forth  the  applause  of 
a  whole  people,  would  both  in  ancient  times  and  in  the 
Middle  Ages  ^^  have  been  proscribed  as  the  lowest  sort 
of  avarice  and  as  an  attitude  entirely  lacking  in  self- 
respect.  It  is,  in  fact,  still  regularly  thus  looked  upon 
by  all  those  social  groups  which  are  least  involved  in 
or  adapted  to  modern  capitalistic  conditions.  This  is 
not  wholly  because  the  instinct  of  acquisition  was  in 
those  times  unknown  or  undeveloped,  as  has  often 
been  said.  Nor  because  the  auri  sacra  fames,  the  greed 
for  gold,  was  then,  or  now,  less  powerful  outside  of 
bourgeois  capitalism  than  within  its  peculiar  sphere,  as 
the  illusions  of  modern  romanticists  are  wont  to  believe. 
The  difference  between  the  capitalistic  and  pre- 
capitalistic  spirits  is  not  to  be  found  at  this  point.  The 
greed  of  the  Chinese  Mandarin,  the  old  Roman  aristo- 
crat, or  the  modern  peasant,  can  stand  up  to  any 
comparison.  And  the  auri  sacra  fames  of  a  Neapolitan 
cab-driver  or  barcaiuolo,  and  certainly  of  Asiatic 
representatives  of  similar  trades,  as  well  as  of  the 
craftsmen  of  southern  European  or  Asiatic  countries, 
is,  as  anyone  can  find  out  for  himself,  very  much  more 


The  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

intense,  and  especially  more  unscrupulous  than  that 
of^ay,  an  Englishman  in  similar  circumstances.^^ 
tChe  universal  reign  of  absolute  unscrupulousness  in 
■  the  pursuit  of  selfish  interests  by  the  making  of  money  f 
,  has  been  a  specific  characteristic  of  precisely  those 
countries  whose  bourgeois-capitalistic  development, 
measured  according  to  Occidental  standards,  has  re- 
mained backward^ As  every  employer  knows,  the  lack 
of  coscienziosita  6i  the  labourers  ^^  of  such  countries,  '; 
for  instance  Italy  as  compared  with  Germany,  has 
been,  and  to  a  certain  extent  still  is,  one  of  the  principal  \. 
_Qbstai::les,to  their  capitalistic  development. [Capitalism  /\ 
cannot  make  use  of  the  labour  of  those  who  practise 
the  doctrine  of  undisciplined  liberum  arbitrium,  any 
more  than  it  can  make  use  of  the  business  man  who 
seems  absolutely  unscrupulous  in  his  dealings  with 
others,  as  we  can  learn  from  Franklin.  Hence  the 
difference  does  not  lie  in  the  degree  of  development  of 
any  impulse  to  make  money  QPhe  atiri  sacra  fames  is  as 
old  as  the  history  of  man.  Out  we  shall  see  that  those 
who  submitted  to  it  without  reserve  as  an  uncontrolled 
impulse,  such  as  the  Dutch  sea-captain  who  "would 
go  through  hell  for  gain,  even  though  he  scorched  his 
sails",  were  by  no  means  the  representatives  of  that 
attitude  of  mind  from  which  the  specifically  modern 
capitalistic  spirit  as  a  mass  phenomenon  is  derived,  and 
that  is  what  matters.  At  all  periods  of  history,  wherever  it 
was  possible,  there  has  been  ruthless  acquisition,  bound 
to  no  ethical  norms  whatever]  Like  war  and  piracy,  trade 
has  often  been  unrestrained  in  its  relations  with  foreigners 
J^and  those  outside  the  group .  The  double  ethic  has  permit- 
^ted  here  what  was  forbidden  in  dealings  among  brothers.  I 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

Capitalistic  acquisition  as  an  adventure  has  been  at 
home  in  all  types  of  economic  society  which  have  known 
trade  with  the  use  of  money  and  which  have  offered  it 
opportunities,  through  commenda^  farming  of  taxes, 
State  loans,  financing  of  wars,  ducal  courts  and  office- 
holders. Likewise  the  inner  attitude  of  the  adventurer, 
which  laughs  at  all  ethical  limitations,  has  been'^uni- 
versal.  Absolute  and  conscious  ruthlessness  in  acqui- 
sition has  often  stood  in  the  closest  connection  with  the 
strictest  conformity  to  tradition.  Moreover,  with  the 
breakdown  of  tradition  and  the  more  or  less  complete 
extension  of  free  economic  enterprise,  even  to  within 
the  social  group,  the  new  thing  has  not  generally  been 
ethically  justified  and  encouraged,  but  only  tolerated 
as  a  fact.  And  this  fact  has  been  treated  either  as 
ethically  indiflferent  or  as  reprehensible,  but  unfortu- 
nately unavoidable.  This  has  not  only  been  the  normal 
attitude  of  all  ethical  teachings,  but,  what  is  more 
important,  also  that  expressed  m  the  practical  action  of 
the  average  man  of  pre-capitalistic  times,  pre-capi tal- 
is tic  in  the  sense  that  the  rational  utilization  of  capital 
in  a  permanent  enterprise  and  the  rational  capitalistic 
organization  of  labour  had  not  yet  become  dominant 
forces  in  the  determination  of  economic  activity.  Now 
just  this  attitude  was  one  of  the  strongest  inner  obstacles 
which  the  adaptation  of  men  to  the  conditions  of  an 
ordered  bourgeois- capitalistic  economy  has  encoun- 
tered .  everywhere . 

CThe  most  important  opponent  with  which  the  spirit 

of  capitalism,  in  the  sense  of  a  definite  standard  of  life 

claiming  ethical  sanction,  has  had  to  struggle,  was  that 

type  of  attitude  and  reaction  to  new  situations  which 


Vi  The  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

we  may  designate  as  traditionalism.^ In  this  case  also 
every  attempt  at  a  final  definition  must  be  held  in 
abeyance.  On  the  other  hand,  we  must  try  to  make  the 
provisional  meaning  clear  by  citing  a  few  cases.  We 
will  begin  from  below,  with  the  labourers. 

One  of  the  technical  means  which  the  modern 
employer  uses  in  order  to  secure  the  greatest  possible 
amount  of  work  from  his  men  is  the  device  of  piece- 
rates  Jin  agriculture,  for  instance,  the  gathering  of  the 
harvest  is  a  case  where  the  greatest  possible  intensity 
of  labour  is  called  for,  since,  the  weather  being  un- 
certain, the  difference  between  high  profit  and  heavy 
loss  may  depend  on  the  speed  with  which  the  harvesting 
can  be  done.  Hence  a  system  of  piece-rates  is  almost 
universal  in  this  case.  And  since  the  interest  of  the 
employer  in  a  speeding-  up  of  harvesting  increases  with 
the  increase  of  the  results  and  the  intensity  of  the  work, 
the  attempt  has  again  and  again  been  made,  by  in- 
creasing the  piece-rates  of  the  workmen,  thereby  giving 
them  an  opportunity  to  earn  what  is  for  them  a  very 
high  wage,  to  interest  them  in  increasing  their  own 
efficiency.  But  a  peculiar  difficulty  has  been  met  with 
surprising  frequency:  raising  the  piece-rates  has  often 
had  the  result  that  not  more  but  less  has  been  accom- 
plished in  the  same  time,  because  the  worker  reacted 
to  the  increase  not  by  increasing  but  by  decreasing  the 
amount  of  his  work.  A  man,  for  instance,  who  at  the 
rate  of  i  mark  per  acre  mowed  2\  acres  per  day 
and  earned  2 J  marks,  when  the  rate  was  raised  to  1*25 
marks  per  acre  mowed,  not  3  acres,  as  he  might 
easily  have  done,  thus  earning  3*75  marks,  but  only 
2  acres,  so  that  he  could  still  earn  the  2\  marks  to 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of   Capitalisn^f- 

which  he  was  accustomed .  The  opportunity  of  earninvä^ 
more  was  less  attractive  than  that  of  working  less.  He 
did  not  ask:  how  much  can  I  earn  in  a  day  if  I  do  as 
much  work  as  possible  ?  but :  how  much  must  I  work 
in  order  to  earn  the  wage,  2\  marks,  which.  I  earned 
before  and  which  takes  care  of  my  traditional  needs? 
This  is  an  example  of  what  is  here  meant  bytradition- 
jlisin.  A  man  does  not  "by  nature"  wish  to  earn  more 
and  more  rnoney^ut_simply  to  live  as  he  is  accustomed"* 
to  live  and  to  earn  as  much  as  is  necessary  for  that 
purpose.  Wherever  modern  capitalism  has  begun  its 

^ork  of  increasing  the  productivity  of  human  labour 
by  increasing  its  intensity,  it  has  encountered  the 
immensely  stubborn  resistance  of  this  leading  trait  of 
pre-capitalistic  labour.  And  to-day  it  encounters  it 
the  more,  the  more  backward  (from  a  capitalistic  point 
of  view)  the  labouring  forces  are  with  which  it  has 
to  deal. 

Another  obvious  possibility,  to  return  to  our  example, 
since  the  appeal  to  the  acquisitive  instinct  through 
higher  wage-rates  failed,  would  have  been  to  try  the 
opposite  policy,  to  force  the  worker  by  reduction  of 
his  wage-rates  to  work  harder  to  earn  the  same  amount 
than  he  did  before.  Low  wages  and  high  profits  seem 
even  to-day  to  a  superficial  observer  tp  stand  in  corre- 
lation ;  everything  which  is  paid  out  in  wages  seems  to 
involve  a  corresponding  reduction  of  profits.  That  road 
capitalism  has  taken  again  and  again  since  its  beginning. 
For  centuries  it  was  an  article  of  faith,  that  low  wages 
were  productive,  i.e.  that  they  increased  the  material 
results  of  labour  so  that,  as  Pieter  de  la  Cour,  on  this 
point,  as  we  shall  see,  quite  in  the  spirit  of  the  old 


The  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

Calvinism,  said  long  ago,  the  people  only  work  because 
and  so  long  as  they  are  poor. 

But  the  effectiveness  of  this  apparently  so  efficient 
method  has  its  limits. ^^  Of  course  the  presence  of  a 
surplus  population  which  it  can  hire  cheaply  in  the 
labour _market  is  a  necessity  for  the  development  of 
capitalism.  But  though  too  large  a  reserve  army  may 
in  certain  cases  favour  its  quantitative  expansion,  it 
checks  its  qualitative  developrhent,  especially  the 
transition,  to  types  of  enterprise  which  make  more 
intensive  use  of  labour.  Low  wages  are  by  no  means 
identical  with  cheap  labour. ^^  From  a  purely  quantita-; 
tive  point  of  view  the  efficiency  of  labour  decreases! 
with  a  wage  which  is  physiologically  insufficient,  whichj 
may  in  the  long  run  even  mean  a  survival  of  the  unfit. 
The  present-day  average  Silesian  mows,  when  he 
exerts  himself  to  the  full,  little  more  than  two-thirds  as 
much  land  as  the  better  paid  and  nourished  Pomeranian 
or  Mecklenburger,  and  the  Pole,  the  further  East  he 
comes  from,  accomplishes  progressively  less  than  the 
German.  Low  wages  fail  even  from  a  purely  business 
point  of  view  wherever  it  is  a  question  of  producing 
goods  which  require  any  sort  o'f  skilled  labouf,  or  the 
use  of  expensive  machinery  which  is  easily  damaged, 
or  in  general  wherever  any  great  amount  of  sharp 
attention  or  of  initiative  is  required.  Here  low  wages  do 
not  pay,  and  their  effect  is  the  opposite  of  what  was 
intended  .(For  not  only  is  a  developed  sense  of  responsi- 
bility absolutely  indispensable,  but  in  general  also  an 
attitude  which,  at  least  during  working  hours,  is  freed 
from  continual  calculations  of  how  the  customary  wage 
may  be  earned  with  a  maximum  of  comfort  and  a 

"^The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

minimum  of  exertion.  Labour  must,  on  the  contrary^ 
be  performed  as  if  it  were  an  absolute  end  in  itselL_A 
calling.  But  such  an  attitude  is  by  no  means  a  product 
of  nature.  It  cannot  be  evoked  by  low  wages  or  high 
ones  alone,  but  can  only  be  the  product  of  a  long  and 
arduous  process  of  education.  To-day,  capitalism,  once 
in  the  .saddle,  can  recruit  its  labouring  force  in  all 
A  I  industrial  countries  with  comparative  ease.  In  the  past 
this  was  in  every  case  an  extremely  difficult^roblem.^' 
d  even  to-day  it  could  probably  not  get  along~with- 
out  the  support  of  a  powerful  ally  along  the  way,  which, 
as  we  shall  see  below,  was  at  hand  at  the  time  of  its 

What  is  meant  can  again  best  be  explained  by  means 
of  an  example.  The  type  of  backward  traditional  form 
of  labour  is  to-day  very  often  exemplified  by  women 
workers,  especially  unmarried  ones.  An  almost  universal 
complaint  of  employers  of  girls,  for  instance  German 
girls,  is  that  they  are  almost  entirely  unable  and  un- 
willing to  give  up  methods  of  work  inherited  or  once 
learned  in  favour  of  more  efficient  ones,  to  adapt 
themselves  to  new  methods,  to  learn  and  to  concentrate 
their  intelligence,  or  even  to  use  it  at  all.  Explanations 
of  the  possibility  of  making  work  easier,  above  all  more 
profitable  to  themselves,  generally  encounter  a  com- 
plete lack  of  understanding.  Increases  of  piece-rates  are 
without  avail  against  the  stone  wall  of  habit.  In  general 
it  is  otherwise,  and  that  is  a  point  of  no  little  importance 
from  our  view-point,  only  with  girls  having  a  specifically 
religious,  especially  a  Pietistic,  background.  One  often 
hears,  and  statistical  investigation  confirms  it,^®  that  by 
far  the  best  chances  of  economic  education  are  found 

The  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

among  this  group.  The  ability  of  mental  concentration, 
as  well  as  the  absolutely  essentiajjFeeling  of  obligation 
tojone's  job,  are  here  most  often  combined  with   a 
strict  economy  which  calculates  the  possibility  of  high 
earnings,  and  a  cool  self-control  and  frugality  which 
enormously  increase  performance.  This  provides  the 
most   favourable   foundation   for   the   conception   of 
lalwmrasjLnjendjn  itself ,  as  a  calling  which  is  necessary 
to  capitalism :  the  chances  of  overcoming  traditionalism 
are  greatest  oiT  account  of  the  religious  upbringing. 
This  observation  of  present-day  capitalism  ^^  in  itself 
suggests  that  it  is  worth  while  to  ask  how  this  connec- 
tion of  adaptability  to  capitalism  with  religious  factors 
may  have  come  about  in  the  days  of  the  early  develop- 
ment of  capitalism.  For   that  they  were    even   then 
present  in  much  the  same  form  can  be  inferred  from 
numerous  facts.  For  instance,  the  dislike  and  the  per- 
secution which  Methodist  workmen  in  the  eighteenth 
century  met   at   the   hands  of  their  comrades  were 
not   solely  nor  even  principally  the   result   of  their 
religious   eccentricities,   England   had   seen   many   of 
those  and  more  striking  ones.  It  rested  rather,  as  the 
destruction  of  their  tools,  repeatedly  mentioned  in  the 
reports,  suggests,  upon   their  specific  willingness   to 
work  as  we  should  say  to-day. 

However,  let  us  again  return  to  the  present,  and  this 
time  to  the  entrepreneur,  in  order  to  clarify  the  meaning 
of  traditionalism  in  his  case. 

Sombart,  in  his  discussions  of  the  genesis  of  capital- 
ism ,20  has  distinguished  between  the  satisfaction  of 
needs  and  acquisition  as  the  two  great  leading  prin- 
ciples in  economic  history.  In  the  former  case  the 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit    of   Capitalism 

attainment  of  the  goods  necessary  to  meet  personal 
needs,  in  the  latter  a  struggle  for  profit  free  from  the 
limits  set  by  needs,  have  been  the  ends  controlling  the 
form  and  direction  of  economic  activity.  What  he  calls 
the  economy  of  needs  seems  at  first  glance  to  be 
identical  with  what  is  here  described  as  economic 
traditionalism.  That  may  be  the  case  if  the  concept  of 
needs  is  limited  to  traditional  needs.  But  if  that  is  not 
done,  a  number  of  economic  types  which  must  be 
considered  capitalistic  according  to  the  definition  of 
capital  which  Sombart  gives  in  another  part  of  his 
work, 2^  would  be  excluded  from  the  category  of 
acquisitive  economy  and  put  into  that  of  needs 
economy.  Enterprises,  namely,  which  are  carried  on 
by  private  entrepreneurs  by  utilizing  capital  (money  or 
goods  with  a  money  value)  to  make  a  profit,  purchasing 
the  means  of  production  and  selling  the  product, 
i.e.  undoubted  capitalistic  enterprises,  may  at  the  same 
time  have  a  traditionalistic  character.  This  has,  in  the 
course  even  of  modem  economic  history,  not  been 
merely  an  occasional  case,  but  rather  the  rule,  with 
continual  interruptions  from  repeated  and  increasingly 
powerful  conquests  of  the  capitalistic  spirit.  To  be  sure 
the  capitalistic  form  of  an  enterprise  and  the  spirit  in 
which  it  is  run  generally  stand  in  some  sort  of  adequate 
relationship  to  each  other,  but  not  in  one  of  necessary 
interdependence.  Nevertheless,  we  provisionally  use 
the  expression  spirit  of  (modern)  capitalism  ^^  to 
describe  that  attitude  which  seeks  profit  rationally  and 
systematically  in  the  manner  which  we  have  illustrated 
by  the  example  of  Benjamin  Franklin.  This,  however, 
is  justified  by  the  historical  fact  that  that  attitude  of 


The  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

mind  has  on  the  one  hand  found  its  most  suitable 
expression  in  capitahstic  enterprise,  while  on  the 
other  the  enterprise  has  derived  its  most  suitable 
motive  force  from  the  spirit  of  capitalism. 

But  the  two  may  very  well  occur  separately.  Benjamin 
Franklin  was  filled  with  the  spirit  of  capitalism  at  a  time 
when  his  printing  business  did  not' differ  in  form  from 
any  handicraft  enterprise.  And  we  shall  see  that  at  the 
beginning  of  modern  times  it  was  by  no  means  the 
capitalistic  entrepreneurs  of  the  commercial  aristocracy, 
who  were  either  the  sole  or  the  predominant  bearers 
of  the  attitude  we  have  here  called  the  spirit  of  capital- 
ism.2^  It  was  much  more  the  rising  strata  of  the  lower 
industrial    middle    classes.    Even    in    the    nineteenth 
century    its    classical    representatives    were    not    the 
elegant  gentlemen  of  Liverpool   and  Hamburg,  with 
their  commercial  fortunes  handed  down  for  genera- 
tions, but  the  self-made  parvenus  of  Manchester  and 
Westphalia,  who  often  rose  from  very  modest  circum- 
stances. As  early  as  the  sixteenth  century  the  situation 
was  similar;  the  industries  which  arose  at  that  time 
were  mostly  created  by  parvenus .^^ 

The  management,  for  instance,  of  a  bank,  a  wholesale 
export  business,  a  large  retail  establishment,  or  of  a 
large  putting-out  enterprise  dealing  with  goods  pro- 
duced in  homes,  is  certainly  only  possible  in  the  form 
of  a  capitalistic  enterprise.  Nevertheless,  they  may  all 
be  carried  on  in  a  traditionalistic  spirit.  In  fact,  the 
business  of  a  large  bank  of  issue  cannot  be  carried  on 
in  any  other  way.  The  foreign  trade  of  whole  epochs 
has  rested  on  the  basis  of  monopolies  and  legal  privileges 
of  strictly  traditional  character.  In  retail  trade — and  we 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

are  not  here  talking  of  the  small  men  without  capital 
who  are  continually  crying  out  for  Government  aid — 
the  revolution  which  is  making  an  end  of  the  old 
traditionalism  is  still  in  full  swing.  It  is  the  same 
development  which  broke  up  the  old  putting-out 
system,  to  which  modern  domestic  labour  is  related 
only  in  form.  How  this  revolution  takes  place  and 
what  is  its  significance  may,  in  spite  of  the  fact  these 
things  are  so  familiar,  be  again  brought  out  by  a 
concrete  example. 

Until  about  the  middle  of  the  past  century  the  life 
of  a  putter-out  was,  at  least  in  many  of  the  branches  of 
the  Continental  textile  industry ,2^  what  we  should 
to-day  consider  very  comfortable.  We  may  imagine  its 
routine  somewhat  as  follows :  The  peasants  came  with 
their  cloth,  often  (in  the  case  of  linen)  principally  or 
entirely  made  from  raw  material  which  the  peasant 
himself  had  produced,  to  the  town  in  which  the 
putter-out  lived,  and  after  a  careful,  often  official, 
appraisal  of  the  quality,  received  the  customary  price 
for  it.  The  putter-out's  customers,  for  markets  any 
appreciable  distance  away,  were  middlemen,  who  also 
came  to  him,  generally  not  yet  following  samples,  but 
seeking  traditional  qualities,  and  bought  from  his 
warehouse,  or,  long  before  delivery,  placed  orders 
which  were  probably  in  turn  passed  on  to  the  peasants. 
Personal  canvassing  of  customers  took  place,  if  at  all, 
only  at  long  intervals.  Otherwise  correspondence 
sufficed,  though  the  sending  of  samples  slowly  gained 
ground.  The  number  of  business  hours  was  very 
moderate,  perhaps  five  to  six  a  day,  sometimes  con- 
siderably less;  in  the  rush  season,  where  there  was  one, 

The  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

more.  Earnings  were  moderate;  enough  to  lead  a 
respectable  life  and  in  good  times  to  put  away  a  little. 
On  the  whole,  relations  among  competitors  were  rela- 
tively good,  with  a  large  degree  of  agreement  on  the 
fundamentals  of  business.  A  long  daily  visit  to  the 
tavern,  with  often  plenty  to  drink,  and  a  congenial  circle 
of  friends,  made  life  comfortable  and  leisurely. 

The  form  of  organization  was  in  every  respect 
capitalistic ;  the  entrepreneur's  activity  was  of  a  purely 
business  character;  the  use  of  capital,  turned  over  in 
the  business,  was  indispensable ;  and  finally,  the  objec- 
tive aspect  of  the  economic  process,  the  book-keeping, 
was  rational.  was  traditionalistic  business,  if  one_' 
considers  the  spirit  which  animated  the  entrepreneur: 
the  traditional  manner  of  life,  the  traditional  rate  of 
profit,  the  traditional  amount  of  work,  the  traditional 
manner  of  regulating  the  relationships  with  labour,  and 
the^ssentially  traditional  circle  of  customers  and  the 
manner  of  attracting  new  ones.  All  these  dominated 
the  conduct  of  the  business,  were  at  the  basis,  one  may 
say,  of  the  ethosoi  this  group  of  business  men. 

Now  at  some  time  this  leisureliness  was  suddenly 
destroyed,  and  often  entirely  without  any  essential 
change  in  the  form  of  organization,  such  as  the  transi- 
tion to  a  unified  factory,  to  mechanical  weaving,  etc. 
What  happened  was,  on  the  contrary,  often  no  more  than 
this:  some  young  man  from  one  of  the  putting-out 
families  went  out  into  the  country,  carefully  chose 
weavers  for  his  employ,  greatly  increased  the  rigour  of 
his  supervision  of  their  work,  and  thus  turned  them 
from  peasants  into  labourers.  On  the  other  hand,  he 
would  begin  to  change  his  marketing  methods  by  so 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of   Capitalism 

far  as  possible  going  directly  to  the  final  consumer, 
would  take  the  details  into  his  own  hands,  would 
personally  solicit  customers,  visiting  them  every  year, 
and  above  all  would  adapt  the  quality  of  the  product 
directly  to  their  needs  and  wishes.  At  the  same  time 
he  began  to  introduce  the  principle  of  low  prices  and 
large  turnover.  There  was  repeated  what  everywhere 
and  always  is  the  result  of  such  a  process  of  rationali- 
zation: those  who  would  not  follow  suit  had  to  go 
out  of  business .\The  idyllic  state  collapsed  under  the 
pressure  of  a  bitter  competitive  struggle,  respectable 
fortunes  were  made,-  and  not  lent  out  at  interest,  but 
always  reinvested  in  the  business.  The  old  leisurely  and 
comfortable  attitude  toward  life  gave  way  to  a  hard 
frugality  in  which  some  participated  and  came  to  the 
top,  because  they  did  not  wish  to  consume  but  to  earn, 
while  others  who  wished  to  keep  on  with  the  old  ways 
were  forced  to  curtail  their  consumption  .^^ 

And,  what  is  most  important  in  this  connection,  it 
was  not  generally  in  such  cases  a  stream  of  new  money 
invested  in  the  industry  which  brought  about  this 
revolution — in  several  cases  known  to  me  the  whole 
revolutionary  process  was  set  in  motion  with  a  few 
thousands  of  capital  borrowed  from  relations — but  the 
,new  spirit,  the  spirit  of  modem  capitalism,  had  set  to 
work.  The  question  of  the  motive  forces  in  the  expan- 
sion of  modem  capitalism  is  not  in  the  first  instance  a 
question  of  the  origin  of  the  capital  sums  which  were 
available  for  capitalistic  uses,  but,  above  all,  of  the 
development  of  the  spirit  of  capitalism.  Where  it 
appears  and  is  able  to  work  itself  out,  it  produces  its 
own  capital  and  monetary  supplies  as  the  means  to  its 

The  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

ends,  but  the  reverse  is  not  true.^'^  Its  entry  on  the 
scene  was  not  generally  peaceful.  A  flood  of  mistrust, 
sometimes  of  hatred,  above  all  of  moral  indignation, 
regularly  opposed  itself  to  the  first  innovator.  Often — I 
know  of  several  cases  of  the  sort — regular  legends  of 
mysterious  shady  spots  in  his  previous  life  have  been 
produced. jit  is  very  easy  not  to  recognize  that  only  an 
unusually  strong  character  could  save  an  entrepreneur 
of  this  new  type  from  the  loss  of  his  temperate  self- 
control  and  from  both  moral  and  economic  shipwreckj^ 
Furthermore,  along  with  clarity  of  vision  and  ability  to 
act,  it  is  only  by  virtue  of  very  definite  and  highly 
developed  ethical  qualities  that  it  has  been  possible  for 
him  to  command  the  absolutely  indispensable  confi- 
dence of  his  customers  and  workmen.  Nothing  else 
could  have  given  him  the  strength  to  overcome  the 
innumerable  obstacles,  above  all  the  infinitely  more 
intensive  work  which  is  demanded  of  the  modern 
entrepreneur.  But  these  are  ethical  qualities  of  quite 
a  diff^erent  sort  from  those  adapted  to  the  traditionalism 
of  the  past. 

And,  as  a  rule,  it  has  been  neither  dare-devil  and 
unscrupulous  speculators,  economic  adventurers  such  as 
we  meet  at  all  periods  of  economic  history,  nor  simply 
great  financiers  who  have  carried  through  this  change, 
outwardly  so  inconspicuous,  but  nevertheless  so  de- 
cisive for  the  penetration  of  economic  life  with  the  new 
spirit. ^n  the  contrary,  they  were  men  who  had  grown 
up  in  the  hard  school  of  life,  calculating  and  daring  at 
the  same  time,  above  all  temperate  and  reliable,  shrewd 
and  completely  devoted  to  their  business,  with  strictly 
bourgeois  opinions  and  principlesJ 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

One  is  tempted  to  think  that  these  personal  moral 
qualities  have  not  the  slightest  relation  to  any  ethical 
maxims,  to  say  nothing  of  religious  ideas,  but  that  the 
essential  relation  between  them  is  negative.  The  ability 
to  free  oneself  from  the  common  tradition,  a  sort  of 
liberal  enlightenment,  seems  likely  to  be  the  most 
suitable  basis  for  such  a  business  man's  success.  And 
to-day  that  is  generally  precisely  the  case.  Any  relation- 
ship between  religious  beliefs  and  conduct  is  generally 
absent,  and  where  any  exists,  at  least  in  Germany,  it 
tends  to  be  of  the  negative  sort.  The  people  filled  with 
the  spirit  of  capitali&m  to-day  tend  to  be  indifferent,  if 
not  hostile,  to  the  Church.  The  thought  of  the  pious 
boredom  of  paradise  has  little  attraction  for  their 
active  natures;  religion  appears  to  them  as  a  means  of 
drawing  people  away  from  labour  in  this  world.  If  you 
ask  them  what  is  the  meaning  of  their  restless  activity, 
why  they  are  never  satisfied  with  what  they  have,  thus 
appearing  so  senseless  to  any  purely  worldly  view  of 
life,  they  would  perhaps  give  the  answer,  if  they  know 
any  at  ail:  "to  provide  for  my  children  and  grand- 
children". But  more  often  and,  since  that  motive  is 
not  peculiar  to  them,  but  was  just  as  effective  for  the 
traditionalist,  more  correctly,  simply:  that  business 
with  its  continuous  work  has  become  a  necessary  part 
of  their  lives.  That  is  in  fact  the  only  possible  motivä^ 
tion,  but  it  at  the  same  time  expresses  what  is,  seen 
from  the  view-point  of  personal  happiness,  so  irrational 
about  this  sort  of  life,  where  a  man  exists  for  the  sake 
of  his  business,  instead  of  the  reverse."^  "" 

Of  course,  the  desire  for  the  power  and  recognition 
which  the  mere  fact  of  wealth  brings  plays  its  part. 

The  Spirit  of  Capitalistn 

When  the  imagination  of  a  whole  people  has  once  been 
turned  toward  purely  quantitative  bigness,  as  in  the 
United  States,  this  romanticism  of  numbers  exercises 
an  irresistible  appeal  to  the  poets  among  business  men. 
Otherwise  it  is  in  general  not  the  real  leaders,  ^nd 
especially  not  the  permanently  successful  entrepreneurs, 
who  are  taken  in  by  it.  In  particular,  the  resort  to  en- 
tailed estates  and  the  nobility,  with  sons  whose  conduct 
at  the  university  and  in  the  officers'  corps  tries  to  cover 
up  their  social  origin,  as  has  been  the  typical  history  of 
German  capitalistic  parvenu  families,  is  a  product  of 
later  decadence.  The  ideal  type  ^®  of  the  capitalistic 
entrepreneur,    as.  it    has    been    represented    even    in 
Germany  by  occasional  outstanding  examples,  has  no 
relation  to  such  more  or  less  refined  climbers.  He 
avoids   ostentation   and   unnecessary   expenditure^   as 
weir~ äs   conscious  enjoyment   of  hTs  power,   and   is 
emEarrassed^y  the  outward  signs  of  the^cial  recogni- 
HoiTwHich  he  receives.  His  manner  oFlife  is,  in  other 
words,   often,   and  we   shall   have   to  investigate  the 
historical    significance    of  just    this    important    fact, 
distinguished  by  a  certain  ascetic  tendency,  as  appears 
clearly  enough  in  the  sermon  of  Franklin  which  we 
have  quoted.  It  is,  namely,  by  no  means  exceptional, 
but  rather  the  rule,  for  him  to  have  a_s^t_üfjQaodesty 
which  is  essentially  more  honest  than  the  reserve  which 
Franklin  so  shrewdly  recommends.  He  gets  nothing 
out  of  his  wealth  for  himself,  except  the  irrational  sense^ 
ofjiaving  done  his  job  well. 

But  it  is  just  that  which  seems  to  the  pre-capitalistic 
man  so  incomprehensible  and  mysterious,  so  unworthy 
and  contemptible.  That  anyone  should  be  able  to  make 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

it  the  sole  purpose  of  his  Hfe-work,  to  sink  into  the 
grave  weigiied  down  with  a  great  material  load  of 
money  a.*id  goods,  seems  to  him  explicable  only  as  the 
prod'-^ct  of  a  pf  fvprsf^  instinrt,  the  auri  sacra  fames. 

.^.c  present  under  our  individualistic  political,  legal, 
and  economic  institutions,  with  the  forms  of  organiza- 
tion and  general  structure  which  are  peculiar  to  our 
economic  order,  this  spirit  of  capitalism  might  be 
understandable,  as  has  been  said,  purely  as  a  result 
of  adaptation.  The  capitalistic  system  so  needs  this 
devotion  to  the  calling  of  making  money,  it  is  an 
attitude  toward  material  goods  which  is  so  well  suited 
to  that  system,  so  intimately  bound  up  with  the  condi- 
tions of  survival  in  the  economic  struggle  for  existence, 
that  there  can  to-day  no  longer  be  any  question  of  a 
necessary  connection  of  that  acquisitive  manner  of  life 
with  any  single  Weltanschauung.  In  fact,  it  no  longer 
needs  the  support  of  any  religious  forces,  and  feels  the 

si  attempts  of  religion  to  influence  economic  life,  in  so 
far  as  they  can  still  be  felt  at  all,  to  be  as  much  an 
unjustified  interference  as  its  regulation  by  the  State. 
In  such  circumstances  men's  commercial  and  social 
interests  do  tend  to  determine  their  opinions  and 
attitudes.  Whoever  does  not  adapt  his  manner  of  life 
to  the  conditions  of  capitalistic  success  must  go  under, 

■iz^  br  at  least  cannot  rise.  But  these  are  phenomena  of  a 
time  in  which  modern  capitalism  has  become  dominant 
and  has  become  emancipated  from  its  old  supports. 
But  as  it  could  at  one  time  destroy  the  old  forms  of 
mediaeval  regulation  of  economic  life  only  in  alliance 
with  the  growing  power  of  the  modern  State,  the  same, 
we  may  say  provisionally,  may  have  been  the  case  in 


The  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

its  relations  with  religious  forces.  Whether  and  in  what 
sense  that  was  the  case,  it  is  our  task  to  investisrate. 
ror  that  the  conception  or  money-making  as  an  end  in 
itself  to  which  people  were  bound,  as  a  calling,  was 
contrary  to  the  ethical  feelings  of  whole  epochs,  it  is 
hardly  necessary  to  prove.  The  dogma  Deo  placer e  vix 
potest  which  was  incorporated  into  the  canon  law  and 
applied  to  the  activities  of  the  merchant,  and  which 
at  that  time  (like  the  passage  in  the  gospel  about 
interest)  ^^  was  considered  genuine,  as  well  as  St. 
Thomas's  characterization  of  the  desire  for  gain  as 
turpitudo  (which  term  even  included  unavoidable  and 
hence  ethically  justified  profit-making),  already  con- 
tained a  high  degree  of  concession  on  the  part  of  the  ^ 
Catholic  doctrine  to  the  financial  powers  with  which  ^ 
the  Church  had  such  intimate  political  relations  in  1^9 
the  Italian  cities, ^^  as  compared  with  the  much  more 
radically  anti-chrematistic  views  of  comparatively  wide 
circles.  But  even  where  the  doctrine  was  still  better 
accommodated  to  the  facts,  as  for  instance  with 
Anthony  of  Florence,  jhe  feeling  was  never  quite 
overcome,  that  activity  directed  to  acquisition  for  its 
own  sake  was  at  bottom  a  pudendum  which  was  to  be 
tolerated  only  because  of  the  unalterable  necessities  of 
life  in  this  worldj 

Some  moralists  of  that  time,  especially  of  the 
nominalistic  school,  accepted  developed  capitalistic 
business  forms  as  inevitable,  and  attempted  to  justify 
them,  especially  commerce,  as  necessary.  The  iudustria 
developed  in  it  they  were  able  to  regard,  though  not 
without  contradictions,  as  a  legitimate  source  of  profit, 
and  hence  ethically  unobjectionable.  But  the  dominant 

^  73 

The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

doctrine  rejected  the  spirit  of  capitalistic  acquisition 
as  turpitudo,  or  at  least  could  not  give  it  a  positive 
ethical  sanction.  An  ethical  attitude  like  that  of  Ben- 
jamin Franklin  would  have  been  simply  unthinkable. 
This  was,  above  all,  the  attitude  of  capitalistic  circles 
themselves.  Their  life-work  was,  so  long  as  they  clung 
to  the  tradition  of  the  Church,  at  best  something 
morally  indifferent.  It  was  tolerated,  but  was  still,  even 
if  only  on  account  of  the  continual  danger  of  collision 
with  the  Church's  doctrine  on  usury,  somewhat 
dangerous  to  salvation.  Quite  considerable  sums,  as 
the  sources  show,  went  at  the  death  of  rich  people  to 
religious  institutions  as  conscience  money,  at  times 
even  back  to  former  debtors  as  usiira  which  had  been 
unjustly  taken  from  them.  It  was  otherwise,  along  with 
heretical  and  other  tendencies  looked  upon  with  dis- 
approval, only  in  those  parts  of  the  commercial  aris- 
tocracy which  were  already  emancipated  from  the 
tradition.  But  even  sceptics  and  people  indifferent  to 
the  Church  often  reconciled  themselves  with  it  by 
gifts,  because  it  was  a  sort  of  insurance  against  the 
uncertainties  of  what  might  come  after  death,  or 
because  (at  least  according  to  the  very  widely  held 
latter  view)  an  external  obedience  to  the  commands  of 
the  Church  was  sufficient  to  insure  salvation. ^^  Here 
the  either  non-moral  or  immoral  character  of  their 
action  in  the  opinion  of  the  participants  themselves 
comes  clearly  to  light. 

Now,  how  could  activity,  which  was  at  best  ethically 
tolerated,  turn  into  a  calling  in  the  sense  of  Benjamin 
Franklin.''  The  fact  to  be  explained  historically  is  that 
in  the  most  highly  capitalistic  centre  of  that  time,  in 


The  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

Florence  of  the  fourteenth  and  fifteenth  centuries,  the 
money  ;md  capital  market  of  all  the  great  political 
Powers,,  this  attitude  was  considered  ethically  un- 
justifiable, or  at  best  to  be  tolerated.  But  in  the  back- 
woods small  bourgeois  circumstances  of  Pennsylvania 
in  the  eighteenth  century,  where  business  threatened 
for  simple  lack  of  money  to  fall  back  into  barter,  where 
there  was  hardly  a  sign  of  large  enterprise,  where  only 
the  earliest  beginnings  of  banking  were  to  be  found, 
the  same  thing  was  considered  the  essence  of  moral 
conduct,  even  commanded  in  the  name  of  duty.  To 
speak  here  of  aj;eflection  of  material  conditions  in  the 
ideal^  superstructure  would  be  patent  nonsense.  WhaP 
was  the  background  of  ideas  which  couFd  account  for 
the  sort  of  activity  apparently  directed  toward  profit 
alone  as  a  calling  toward  which  the  individual  feels 
himself  to  have  an  ethical  obligation?  For  it  was  this 
idea  which  gave  the  way  of  life  of  the  new  entrepreneur 
its  ethical  foundation  and  justification.  ^ 

The  attempt  has  been  made,  particularly  by  Sombart, 
in  what  are  often  judicious  and  eflfective  observations, 
to  depict  economic  rationalism  as  the  salient  feature  of 
modern  economic  life  as  a  whole.  Undoubtedly  with 
justification,  if  by  that  is  meant  the  extensipn  of  the 
productivity  of  labour  which  has,  through  the "  sub- 
ordination of  the  process  of  production  to  scientific 
points  of  view,  relieved  it  from  its  dependence  upon 
the  natural  organic  limitations  of  the  hun>an  individual. 
Now  this  process  of  rationalization  i^  the  field  of 
technique  and  economic  organization  undoubtedly 
determines  an  important  part  of  the  ideals  of  life  of 
modern  bourgeois  society.  Labour  in  the  service  of  a 



The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit    of   Capialism 

rational  organization  for  the  provision  of  humanity  with 
material  goods  has  without  doubt  always  appeared  to 
representatives  of  the  capitalistic  spirit  as  one  of  the 
most  important  purposes  of  their  life-work.  It  is  only 
necessary,  for  instance,  to  read  Franklin's  account  of 
his  efforts  in  the  service  of  civic  improvements  in 
Philadelphia  clearly  to  apprehend  this  obvious  trutl  . 
And  the  joy  and  pride  of  having  given  employment  to 
numerous  people,  of  having  had  a  part  in  the  economic 
progress  of  his  home  town  in  the  sense  referring  to 
figures  of  population  and  volume  of  trade  which 
capitalism  associated  with  the  word,  all  these  things 
obviously  are  part  .of  the  specific  and  undoubtedly 
idealistic  satisfactions  in  life  to  modern  men  of  busi- 
ness. Similarly  it  is  one  of  the  fundamental  character- 
istics of  an  individualistic  capitalistic  economy  that  it 
is  rationalized  on  the  basis  of  rigorous  calculation, 
directed  with  foresight  and  caution  toward  the  economic 
success  which  is  sought  in  sharp  contrast  to  the  hand- 
to-mouth  existence  of  the  peasant,  and  to  the  privileged 
traditionalism  of  the  guild  craftsman  and  of  the 
adventurers'  capitalism,  oriented  to  the  exploitation  of 
political  opportunities  and  irrational  speculation. 

It  might  thus  seem  that  the  development  of  the 
spirit  of  capitalism  is  best  understood  as  part  of  the 
development  of  rationalism  as  a  whole,  and  could  be 
deduced  from  the  fundamental  position  of  rationalism 
on  the  basic  problems  of  life.  In  the  process  Protestant- 
ism would  only  have  to  be  considered  in  so  far  as  it 
had  formed  a  stage  prior  to  the  development  of  a  purely 
rationalistic  philosophy.  But  any  serious  attempt  to 
carry  this  thesis  through  makes  it  evident  that  such  a 


/  The  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

simple  way  of  putting  the  question  will  not  work, 
simply  becaus'e  of  the  fact  that  the  history  of  rationalism 
shows   3   development   which   by  no   means   follows 
parallel  lines  in  the  various  departments  of  life.  The 
rationalization  of  private  law,  for  instance,   if  it  is 
thought  of  as  a  logical  simplification  and  rearrange- 
ment of  the  content  of  the  law,  was  achieved  in  the 
highest  hitherto  known  degree  in  the  Roman  law  of 
late  antiquity.  But  it  remained  most  backward  in  some 
of  the  countries  with  the  highest  degree  of  economic 
rationalization,  notably  in  England,  where  the  Renais- 
sance of  Roman  Law  was  overcome  by  the  power  of' 
the  great  legal  corporations,  while  it  has  always  retained 
its  supremacy  in  the  Catholic  countries  of  Southern 
Europe.    The    worldly    rational    philosophy    of    the 
eighteenth  century  did  not  find  favour  alone  or  even 
principally   in    the    countries    of   highest    capitalistic 
development.  The  doctrines  of  Voltaire  are  even  to-day 
the  common  property  of  broad  upper,  and  what  is 
practically   more   important,   middle-class   groups   in 
the   Romance   Catholic  countries.    Finally,    if   under 
practical  rationalism  is  understood  the  type  of  attitude 
which  sees  and  judges  the  world  consciously  in  terms 
of  the  worldly  interests  of  the  individual  ego,  then  this 
view  of  life  was  and  is  the  special  peculiarity  of  the 
peoples  of  the  libenim  arbitrium,  such  as  the  Italians 
and  the  French  are  in  very  flesh  and  blood.  But  we 
have  already  convinced  ourselves  that  this  is  by  no 
means  the  soil  in  which  that  relationship  of  a  man  to 
his  calling  as  a  task,  which  is  necessary'  to  capitalism, 
has  pre-eminently  grown.  In  fact,  one  may — this  simple 
proposition,  which  is  often  forgotten,  should  be  placed 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capuutism 

at  the  beginning  of  every  study  which  essays  to  deal 
with  rationalism — rationalize  life  from  fundamentally 
different  basic  points  of  view  and  in  very  different 
directions.  Rationalism  is  an  historical  concept  which 
covers  a  j^JKile-WQrici  of  different  Üiings.  It  will  be  our 
task  to  find  out  whose  intellectual  child  The  particular 
concrete  form  of  rational  thought  ~was,  from  which 
theidea  of  a  calling  and  the  devotion  to  labour  in_the 
calling  lias  grown,  which  is,  as  we  haye  seen^  so  irra- 
tional  from  the  standpoint  of  purely  eudaemoni^tic_ 
self-interest,  but  which  has  been  and  still  is  one  of  the 
most  characteristic  elements  of  our  capitalistic  culture.. 
We  are  here  particularly  interested  in  the  origin  of 
precisely  the  irrational  element  which  lies  in  this,  as 
in  every  conception  of  a  calling. 



Task  of  the  Investigation 

Now  it  is  unmistakable  that  even  in  the  German  word 
Bert^,  and  perhaps  still  more  clearly  in  the  English 
calling,  a  religious  conception,  that  of  a  task  set  by 
God7^~at~least  suggested.  The  more  emphasis  is  pur 
upon  the  word  in  a  concrete  case,  the  more  evident  is 
the  connotation.  And  if  we  trace  the  history  of  the 
word  through  the  civilized  languages,  it  appears  that 
neither  the  predominantly  Catholic  peoples  nor  those 
of  classical  antiquity^  have  possessed  any  expression 
of  similar  connotation  for  what  we  know  as  a  calling 
(in  the  sense  of  a  life-task,  a  definite  field  in  which  to 
work),  while  pne  has  existed  for  all  predominantly 
Protestantpeo^les^  It  may  be  further  shown  that  this 
IS  not  due  to  any  ethnical  peculiarity  of  the  languages 
concerned.  It  is  not,  for  instance,  the  product  of  a 
Germanic  spirit,  but  in  its  modern  meaning  the  word 
comes  from  the  Bible  translations,  through  the  spirit 
of  the  translator,  not  that  of  the  original.-  In  Luther's 
translation  of  the  Bible  it  appears  to  have  first  been 
used  at  a  point  in  Jesus  Sirach(xi.  20  and  21)  precisely 
in  our  modern  sense. ^  After  that  it  speedily  took  on  its 
present  meaning  in  the  everyday  speech  of  all  Pro- 
testant peoples,  while  earlier  not  even  a  suggestion  of 
such  a  meaning  could  be  found  in  the  secular  literature 
of  any  of  them,  and  even,  in  religious  writings,  so  far 
as  I  can  ascertain,  it  is  only  found  in  one  of  the  German 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

mystics   whose   influence   on  Luther  is  well  known. 

Like  the  meaning  of  the  word,  the  idea  is  new,  a 

product  of  the  Reformation.  This  may  be  assumed  as 

generally  known.  It  is  true  that  certain  suggestions  of 

the  positive  valuation  of  routine  activity  in  the  world, 

which  is  contained  in  this  conception  of  the  calling,  had 

already  existed  in  the  Middle  Ages,  and  even  in  late 

Hellenistic  antiquity.   We  shall  speak  of  that   later. 

But  at  least  one  thing  was  unquestionably  new:  the 

valuation  of  the  fulfilment  of  duty  in  worldly  affairs  as 

the   highest   form   which   the   moral   activity   of  the 

individual  could  assiime.  This  it  was  which  inevitably 

gave  every-day  worldly  activity  a  religious  significance, 

and  which  first  created  the  conception  of  a  calling  in 

this  sense.  The  conception  of  the  calling  thus  brings 

out  that  central  dogma  of  all  Protestant  denominations 

which  the  Catholic  division  of  ethical  precepts  into 

prcecepta  and  consilia  discards.  The  only  way  of  living 

acceptably  to  God  was  not  to  surpass  worldly  morality 

in  monastic  asceticism,  but  solely  through  the  fulfilment 

of  the  obligations  imposed  upon  the  individual  by  his 

!^  position  in  the  worjd.  That  was  his  calling. 

Luther*  developed  the  concept ion~m'The  course  of 
the  first  decade  of  his  activity  as  a  reformer.  At  first, 
quite  in  harmony  with  the  prevailing  tradition  of  the 
Middle  Ages,  as  represented,  for  example,  by  Thomas 
Aquinas,^  he  thought  of  activity  in  the  world  as  a  thing 
of  the  flesh,  even  though  willed  by  God.  I,t  is  the 
indispensable  natural  condition  of  a  life  of  faith,  but 
in  itself,  like  eating  and  drinkjng,  morally  ijieutral.^  But 
with  the  development  of  the  conception  of  sola  fide  in 
all  its  consequences,  and  its  logical  result,  the  increas- 

Luther's  Conception  of  the  Calling 

ingly   sharp    emphasis    against    the    Catholic    cons.;^^ 
evangelica  of  the  monks  as  dictates  of  the  devil,  tL,  ' 
calling  grew  in  importance. [The  monastic  life  is  not 
.only  quite  devoid  of  value  as  a  means  of  justification 
before  God,  but  he  also  looks  upon  its  renunciation  of    y 
the.  duties  of  this  world  as  the  product  of  selfishness,  yN- 
withdrawing  from  temporal  obligations.  In  contrast, 
labour  in  a  calling  appears  to  him  as  the  outward 
expression  of  brotherly  love]]  This  he  proves  by  the 
observation  that  the  division  of  labour  forces  every 
individual  to  work  for  others,  but  his  view-point  is 
highly  naive,  forming  an  almost  grotesque  contrast  to    J 
Adam   Smith's  well-known  statements  on   the  same 
subject.'  However,  this  justification,  which  is  evidently 
essentially  scholastic,  soon  disappears  again,  and  there 
remains,  more  and  more  strongly  emphasized,  the  state- 
ment that  the  fulfilment  of  worldly  duties  is  under  all 
circumstances  the  only  way  to  live  acceptably  to  God.  It 
and  it  alone  is  the  will  of  God ,  and  hence  every  legitimate    /C 
calling  has  exactly  the  same  worth  in  the  sight  of  God.® 

[That  this  moral  justification  of  worldly  activity  was  "^ — 
one  of  the  most  important  results  of  the  Reformation, 
especially  of  Luther's  part  in  it,  is  beyond  doubt,  and 
may  even  be  considered  a  platitude.^  This  attitude  is 
worlds  removed  from  the  deep  hatred  of  Pascal,  in  his 
contemplative  moods,  for  all  worldly  activity,  which 
he  was  deeply  convinced  could  only  be  understood  in 
terms  of  vanity  or  low  cunning.^^  And  it  differs  even 
more  from  the  Hberal  utilitarian  compromise  with  the 
world  at  which  the  Jesuits  arrived]  But  just  what  the  prac- 
tical significance  of  this  achievement  of  Protestantism 
was  in  detail  is  dimly  felt  rather  than  clearly  perceived. 


jy^g   r'rotestant    Ethic   and    the    Spirit    of   Capitalism 

j^^.n  the  first  place  it  is  hardly  necessary  to  point  out 
lat  Luther  cannot  be  claimed  for  the  spirit  of  capital- 
ism in  the  sense  in  which  we  have  used  that  term 
above,  or  for  that  matter  in  any  sense  whatever.  The 
religious  circles  which  to-day  most  enthusiastically 
celebrate  that  great  achievement  of  the  Reformation 
are  by  no  means  friendly  to  capitalism  in  any  sense. 
And  Luther  himself  would,  without  doubt,  have 
sharply  repudiated  any  connection  with  a  point  of 
view  like  that  of  Franklin.  Of  course,  one  cannot  con- 
sider his  complaints  against  the  great  merchants  of  his 
time,  such  as  the  Fuggers,^^  as  evidence  in  this  case. 
For  the  struggle  against  the  privileged  position,  legal 
or  actual,  of  single  great  trading  companies  in  the  six- 
teenth and  seventeenth  centuries  may  best  be  compared 
with  the  modern  campaign  against  the  trusts,  and  can 
no  more  justly  be  considered  in  itself  an  expression  of 
a  traditionalistic  point  of  view.  Against  these  people, 
against  the  Lombards,  the  monopolists,  speculators, 
and  bankers  patronized  by  the  Anglican  Church  and 
the  kings  and  parliaments  of  England  and  France,  both 
the  Puritans  and  the  Huguenots  carried  on  a  bitter 
struggle. ^2  Cromwell,  after  the  battle  of  Dunbar 
(September  1650),  wrote  to  the  Long  Parliament: 
"Be  pleased  to  reform  the  abuses  of  all  professions: 
and  if  there  be  any  one  that  makes  many  poor  to  make 
a  few  rich,  that  suits  not  a  Commonwealth."  But, 
nevertheless,  we  will  find  Cromwell  following  a  quite 
specifically  capitalistic  line  of  thought. ^^  On  the  other 
hand,  Luther's  numerous  statements  against  usury  or 
interest  in  any  form  reveal  a  conception  of  the  nature 
of  capitalistic  acquisition  which,  compared  with  that  of 

Luther's  Conception  of  the  Calling 

late  Scholasticism,  is,  from  a  capitalistic  view-point, 
definitely  backward  .^^  Especially,  of  course,  the  doctrine 
of  the  sterility  of  money  which  Anthony  of  Florence 
had  already  refuted. 

But  it  is  unnecessary  to  go  into  detail.  For,  above  all, 
the  consequences  of  the  conception  of  the  calling  in  the 
religious  sense  for  worldly  conduct  were  susceptible 
to  quite  different  interpretations.  The  effect  of  the 
Reformation  as  such  was  only  that,  as  compared  with 
tKe~~Cäthölic  attitude,  the  moral  emphasis  on  and  the  ' 
religious  sanction  of,  organized  worldly  labour  in  a 
calling  was  mightily  increased.  The  way  in  which  the 
concept  of  the  calling,  which  expressed  this  change, 
should  develop  further  depended  upon  the  religious 
evolution  which  now  took  place  in  the  different  Pro- 
testant Churches.  The  authority  of  the  Bible,  from 
which  Luther  thought  he  had  derived  his  idea  of  the 
calling,  on  the  whole  favoured  a  traditionalistic  inter- 
pretation. The  old  Testament,  in  particular,  though  in 
the  genuine  prophets  it  showed  no  sign  of  a  tendency 
to  excel  worldly  morality,  and  elsewhere  only  in  quite 
isolated  rudiments  and  suggestions,  contained  a  similar 
religious  idea  entirely  in  this  traditionalistic  sense. 
Everyone  should  abide  by  his  living  and  let  the  godless 
mn  after  gain.  That  is  the  sense  of  all  the  statements 
which  bear  directly  on  worldly  activities.  Not  until  the 
Talmud  is  a  partially,  but  not  even  then  fundamentally, 
different  attitude  to  be  found.  The  personal  attitude 
of  Jesus  is  characterized  in  classical  purity  by  the 
typical  antique-Oriental  plea:  "Give  us  this  day  our 
daily  bread."  The  element  of  radical  repudiation 
of  the  world,  as  expressed  in  the  fiafiajvas  rrjs  dBiKlas, 



The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

excluded  the  possibility  that  the  modern  idea  of  a 
calling  should  be  based  on  his  personal  authority .^^  In 
the  apostolic  era  as  expressed  in  the  New  Testament, 
especially  in  St.  Paul,  the  Christian  looked  upon 
worldly  activity  either  with  indifference,  or  at  least 
essentially  traditionalistically ;  for  those  first  generations 
were  filled  with  eschato logical  hopes.  Since  everyone 
was  simply  waiting  for  the  coming  of  the  Lord,  there 
was  nothing  to  do  but  remain  in  the  station  and  in 
the  worldly  occupation  in  which  the  call  of  the  Lord 
had  found  him,  and  labour  as  before.  Thus  he  would 
not  burden  his  brothers  as  an  object  of  charity,  and  it 
would  only  be  for  a  little  while.  Luther  read  the  Bible 
through  the  spectacles  of  his  whole  attitude;  at  the  time 
and  in  the  course  of  his  development  from- about  1518 
to  1530  this  not  only  remained  traditionalistic  but 
became  ever  more  so.^^ 

In  the  first  years  of  his  activity  as  a  reformer  he  was, 
since  he  thought  of  the  calling  as  primarily  of  the  flesh, 
dominated  by  an  attitude  closely  related,  in  so  far  as  the 
form  of  world ^^  activity  was  concerned,  to  the  Pauline 
eschatological  indifference  as  expressed  in  i  Cor.  vii.^' 
One  may  attain  salvation  in  any  walk  of  life;  on  the 
short  pilgrimage  of  life  there  is  no  use  in  laying  weight 
on  the  form  of  occupation.  The  pursuit  of  material  gain 
beyond  personal  needs  must  thus  appear  as  a  symptom 
of  lack  of  grace,  and  since  it  can  apparently  only  be 
attained  at  the  expense  of  others,  directly  reprehen- 
sible.^® As  he  became  increasingly  involved  in  the  affairs 
/  of  the  world,  he  came  to  value  work  in  the  world  more 

(highly.  But  in  the  concrete  calling  an  individual  pursued 
he  saw  more  and  more  a  special  command  of  God  to 

Luther's  Conception  of  the  Calling 

fulfil  these  particular  duties  which  the  Divine  Will  had 
imposed  upon  him.  And  after  the  conflict  with  the 
Fanatics  and  the  peasant  disturbances,  the  objective 
historical  order  of  things  in  which  the  individual  has  (v 
been  placed  by  God  becomes  for  Luther  more  and  \\\ 
more  a  direct  manifestation  of  divine  will.^^  The 
stronger  and  stronger  emphasis  on  the  providential 
element,  even  in  particular  events  of  life,  led  more  and 
more  to  a  traditionalistic  interpretation  based  on  the 
idea  of  Providence.  The  individual  should  remain  once  -) 
and  for  all  in  the  station  and  calling  in  which  God  had 
placed  him,  and  should  restrain  his  worldly  activity 
within  the  limits  imposed  by  his  established  station  in 
life.  While  his  economic  traditionalism  was  originally 
the  result  of  Pauline  indifference,  it  later  became  that 
of  a  more  and  more  intense  belief  in  divine  provi- 
dence,^^  which  identified  absolute  obedience  to  God's 
will, 2^  with  absolute  acceptance  of  things  as  they  were. 
Starting  from  this  background,  it  was  impossible  for 
Luther  to  establish  a  new  or  in  any  way  fundamental 
connection  between  worldly  activity  and  religious 
principles  .22  His  acceptance  of  purity  of  doctrine  as  the 
one  infallible  criterion  of  the  Church,  which  became 
more  and  more  irrevocable  after  the  struggles  of  the 
'twenties,  was  in  itself  sufficient  to  check  the  develop- 
ment of  new  points  of  view  in  ethical  matters. 

Thus  jo^J^^utheiLihe  concept  of  the  calling  remained 
traditionalisticu-^^  His  callmg  is  something  which  man'j 
has  to  accept  as  a  divine  ordinance,  to  which  he  must  I 
adapt  himself.  This  aspect  outweighed  the  other  idea  V; 
which  was  also  present,  that  work  in  the  calling  was  a, 
or  gather  the,  task  set  by  God.^^  And  in  its  further    j 

8s      1 

The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit    of    Capitalism 

development,  orthodox  Lutheranism  emphasized  this 
aspect  still  more.  Thus,  for  the  time  being,  the  only 
ethical  result  was  negative;  worldly  duties  were  no 
longer  subordinated  to  ascetic  ones;  obedience  to 
authority  and  the  acceptance  of  things  as  they  were, 
were  preached  .^^  In  this  Lutheran  form  the  idea  of  a 
calling  had,  as  will  be  shown  in  our  discussion  of 
mediaeval  religious  ethics,  to  a  considerable  extent 
been  anticipated  by  the  German  mystics.  Especially 
in  Tauler's  equalization  of  the  values  of  religious  and 
worldly  occupations,  and  the  decline  in  valuation  of 
the  traditional  forms  of  ascetic  practices  ^®  on  account 
of  the  decisive  significance  of  the  ecstatic-contemplative 
absorption  of  the  divine  spirit  by  the  soul.  To  a  certain 
extent  Lutheranism  means  a  step  backward  from  the 
mystics,  in  so  far  as  Luther,  and  still  more  his  Church, 
had,  as  compared  with  the  mystics,  partly  undermined 
the  psychological  foundations  for  a  rational  ethics.  (The 
mystic  attitude  on  this  point  is  reminiscent  partly  of  the 
Pietest  and  partly  of  the  Quaker  psychology  of  faith  .2') 
That  was  precisely  because  he  could  not  but  suspect  the 
tendency  to  ascetic  self-discipline  of  leading  to  salvation 
by  works,  and  hence  he  and  his  Church  were  forced  to 
keep  it  more  and  more  in  the  background. 

Thus  the  mere  idea  of  the  calling  in  the  Lutheran 
sense  is  at  best  of  questionable  importance  for  the 
problems  in  which  we  are  interested.  This  was  all  that 
was  nieant  to  be  determined  here.^^  But  this  is  not  in 
the  least  to  say  that  even  the  Lutheran  form  of  the 
renewal  of  the  religious  life  may  not  have  had  some 
practical  significance  for  the  objects  of  our  investiga- 
tion ;  quite  the  contrary.  Only  that  significance  evidently 

Luther's  Conception  of  the  Calling 

cannot  be  derived  directly  from  the  attitude  of  Luther 
and  his  Church  to  worldly  activity,  and  is  perhaps  not 
altogether  so  easily  grasped  as  the  connection  with 
other  branches  of  Protestantism.  It  is  thus  well  for  us 

I;  next  to  look  into  those  forms  in  which  a  relation 
between  practical  life  and  a  religious  motivation  can 

1  be  more  easily  perceived  than  in  Lutheranism.  We 
have  already  called  attention  to  the  conspicuous  part 
played  by  Calvinism  and  the  Protestant  sects  in  the 
history  of  capitalistic  development.  As  Luther  found 
a  different  spirit  at  work  in  Zwingli  than  in  himself, 
so  did  his  spiritual  successors  in  Calvinism.  And 
Catholicism  has  to  the  present  day  looked  upon 
Calvinism  as  its  real  opponent. 

I  Now  that  may  be  partly  explained  on  purely  political 
grounds.  Although  the  Reformation  is  unthinkable 
without  Luther's  own  personal  religious  development, 
and  was  spiritually  long  influenced  by  his  personality, 
I  without  Calvinism  his  work  could  not  have  had  per- 
manent concrete  success.  Nevertheless,  the  reason  for 
this  common  repugnance  of  Catholics  and  Lutherans 
lies,  at  least  partly,  in  the  ethical  peculiarities  of 
Calvinism.  A  purely  superficial  glance  shows  that  there 
is  here  quite  a  different  relationship  between  the 
religious  life  and  earthly  activity  than  in  either  Catholi- 
cism or  Lutheranism.  Even  in  literature  motivated 
purely  by  religious  factors  that  is  evident.  Take  for 
instance  the  end  of  the  Divine  Comedy y  where  the  poet 
in  Paradise  stands  speechless  in  his  passive  contempla- 
tion of  the  secrets  of  God,  and  compare  it  with  the 
poem  which  has  come  to  be  called  the  Divine  Comedy 
of  Puritanism.  Milton  closes  the  last  song  of  Paradise 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and  the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

Lost  after  describing  the  expulsion  from  paradise  as 
follows: — 

"They,  looking  back,  all  the  eastern  side  beheld 
Of  paradise,  so  late  their  happy  seat, 
Waved  over  by  that  flaming  brand ;  the  gate 
With  dreadful  faces  thronged  and  fiery  arms. 
Some  natural  tears  they  dropped,  but  wiped  them  soon: 
The  world  was  all  before  them,  there  to  choose 
Their  place  of  rest,  and  Providence  their  guide." 

And  only  a  little  before  Michael  had  said  to  Adam: 

.  .  .  "Only  add 
Deeds  to  thy  knowledge  answerable ;  add  faith ; 
Add  virtue,  patience,  temperance;  add  love, 
By  name  to  come  called  Charity,  the  soul 
Of  all  the  rest :  then  wilt  thou  not  be  loth 
To  leave  this  Paradise,  but  shall  possess 
A  Paradise  within  thee,  happier  far." 

One  feels  at  once  that  this  powerful  expression  of  the 
Puritan's  serious  attention  to  this  world,  his  acceptance 
of  his  life  in  the  world  as  a  task,  could  not  possibly  have 
come  from  the  pen  of  a  mediaeval  writer.  But  it  is 
just  as  uncongenial  to  Lutheranism,  as  expressed  for 
instance  in  Luther's  and  Paul  Gerhard's  chorales. 
It  is  now  our  task  to  replace  this  vague  feeling  by  a 
somewhat  more  precise  logical  formulation,  and  to 
investigate  the  fundamental  basis  of  these  differences. 
The  appeal  to  national  character  is  generally  a  mere 
confession  of  ignorance,  and  in  this  case  it  is  entirely 
untenable.  To  ascribe  a  unified  national  character  to 
the  Englishmen  of  the  seventeenth  century  would  be 
simply  to  falsify  history.  Cavaliers  and  Roundheads  did 

Luther^s  Conception  of  the  Calling 

ncct  appeal  to  each  other  simply  as  two  parties,  but  as 
radically  distinct  species  of  men,  and  whoever  looks 
into  the  matter  carefully  must  agree  with  them.^^  On 
the  other  hand,  a  difference  of  character  between  the 
English  merchant  adventurers  and  the  old  Hanseatic 
merchants  is  not  to  be  found;  nor  can  any  other 
fundamental  difference  between  the  English  and 
German  characters  at  the  end  of  the  Middle  Ages, 
which  cannot  easily  be  explained  by  the  differences  of 
their  political  history. ^°  It  was  the  power  of  religious 
influence,  not  alone,  but  more  than  anything  else, 
which  created  the  differences  of  which  we  are  conscious 
to-day.  3^ 

We  thus  take  as  our  starting-point  in  the  investiga- 
tion of  the  jrelatkmship  between  the  old  PrptestanL. 
ethic  and  the  spirit  of  capitalism  the  works  of  Calvin, 

nfTalvin  jt^rn ,  and  the  nther  Puritan  SectS.  But  it  is  not 

to  be  understood  that  we  expect  to  find  any  of  the 
founders  or  representatives  of  these  religious  move- 
ments considering  the  promotion  of  what  we  have 
called  the  spirit  of  capitalism  as  in  any  sense  the  end  of 
his  life-work.  We  cannot  well  maintain  that  the  pursuit 
of  worldly  goods,  conceived  as  an  end  in  itself,  was  to 
any  of  them  of  positive  ethical  value.  Once  and  for  all 
it  must  be  remembered  that  programmes  of  ethical 
reform  never  were  at  the  centre  of  interest  for  any  of 
the  religious  reformers  (among  whom,  for  our  purposes, 
we  must  include  men  like  Menno,  George  Fox,  and 
Wesley).  They  were  not  the  founders  of  societies  for 
ethical  culture  nor  the  proponents  of  humanitarian 
projects  for  social  reform  or  cultural  ideals.  The  salva- 
tion of  the  soul  and  that  alone  was  the  centre  of  their 

'  H  89 

The   Protestant   Ethic   and  the   Spirit   of    Capii    '^a 

j  life  and  work  «^  Their  ethical  ideals  and  the  pracoft'al 
(  results  of  their  doctrines  were  all  based  on  that  alone, 
^  and  were  the  consequences  of  purely  religious  motives. 
We  shall  thus  have  to  admit  that  the  cultural  conse- 
quences of  the  Reformation  were  to  a  great  extent, 
perhaps  in  the  particular  aspects  with  which  we  are- 
dealing  predominantly,  unforeseen  and  even  unwished- 
for  results  of  the  labours  of  the  reformers.  They  were 
often  far  removed  from  or  even  in  contradiction  to  all 
t^t  they  themselves  thought  to  attain. 
^1     The  following  study  may  thus  perhaps  in  a  modest 
/way  form  a  contribution  to  the  understanding  of  the 
manner   in  which   ideas   become  effective  forces   in 
history.  In  order,  however,  to  avoid  any  misunder- 
standing of  the  sense  in  which  any  such  effectiveness 
of  purely  ideal  motives  is  claimed  at  all,  I  may  perhaps 
be  permitted  a  few  remarks  in  conclusion  to  this  intro- 
ductory discussion. 

In  such  a  study,  it  may  at  once  be  definitely  stated, 
no  attempt  is  made  to  evaluate  the  ideas  of  the  Reforma- 
tion in  any  sense,  whether  it  concern  their  social  or  their 
religious  worth.   We   have   continually  to  deal  with 
aspects  of  the  Reformation  which  must  appear  to  the 
,       truly  religious  consciousness  as  incidental  and  even 
)/^  /■  superficial.  For  we  are  merely  attempting  to  clarify  the 
/    part  which  religi^ous  forces  have  played  in  forming  the 
I     developing  web  of  our  specifically  worldly  modern 
\    culture,   in  the  complex  interaction   of  innumerable 
\  different  historical  factors.  We  are  thus  inquiring  only 
to  what  extent  certain  characteristic  features  of  this 
culture  can  be  imputed  to  the  influence  of  the  Reforma- 
tion. At  the  same  time  we  must  free  ourselves  from  the 

Luther* s  Conception  of  the  Calling 

idea  that  it  is  possible  to  deduce  the  Reformation,  as 
a  historically  necessary  result,  from  certain  economic 
changes.  Countless  historical  circumstances,  which 
cannot  be  reduced  to  any  economic  law,  and  are  not 
susceptible  of  economic  explanation  of  any  sort, 
especially  purely  political  processes,  had  to  concur  in 
order  that  the  newly  created  Churches  should  survive 
at  all. 

On  the  other  hand,  however,  we  have  no  intention 
whatever  of  mauitaining  such  a  foolish  and  doctrinaire 
thesis^^  as  that'^the  spirit  of  capitalism  (in  the  pro- 
visional sense  of  the  term  explained  above)  could  only 
have  arisen  as  ^e  result  of  certain  effects  of  the  Refor- 
mation, or  even  that  capitalism  as  an  economic  system 
is  a  creation  of  the  Reformation.  In  itself,  the  fact  that 
certain  important  forms  of  capitalistic  business  organi- 
zation are  known  to  be  considerably  older  than  the 
Reformation  is  a  sufficient  refutation  of  such  a  claim. 
On  the  contrary,  we  only  wish  to  ascertain  whether  and 
to  what  extent  religious  forces  have  taken  part  in  the 
qualitative  formation  and  the  quantitative  expansion  of 
that  spirit  over  the  world.  Furthermore,  what  concrete 
aspects  of  our  capitalistic  culture  can  be  traced  to  them. 
In  view  of  the  tremendous  confusion  of  interdependent 
influences  between  the  material  basis,  the  forms  of 
social  and  political  organization,  and  the  ideas  current 
in  the  time  of  the  Reformation,  we  can  only  proceed 
by  investigating  whether  and  at  what  points  certain 
correlations  between  forms  of  religious  belief  and 
practical  ethics  can  be  worked  out.  At  the  same  time 
we  shall  as  far  as  possible  clarify  the  manner  and  the 
general  direction  in  which,  by  virtue  of  those  relation- 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

ships,  the  religious  movements  have  influenced  the 
development  of  material  culture.  Only  when  thisKas 
been  determined  with  reasonable  accuracy  can  the 
attempt  be  made  to  estimate  to  what  extent  the  his- 
torical development  of  modern  culture  can  be  attributed 
to  those  religious  forces  and  to  what  extent  to  others. 







In  history  there  have  been  four  principal  fornas_of 
ascetic  Protestantism  (in  the  sense  of  word  here  used) : 
(i)  Calvinism  in  the  form  which  it  assumed  in  the  • 
main  area  of  its  influence  in  Western  Europe,  especially 
in  the  seventeenth  century ;  (2)  Pietism ;  (3)  Methodism ; 
(4)  the  sects  growing  out  of  the  Baptist  movement.^ 
None  of  these  movements  was  completely  separated 
from  the  others,  and  even  the  distinction  from  the 
non-ascetic  Churches  of  the  Reformation  is  never 
perfectly  clear.  Methodism.  which_first  arnsp  in  the 
middle  of  the  eightfifirillLceiituiY  within  the  Established 

Church  of  England,  was  not^in   the   minds  of  its 
founders,  intended  to  form  a  new^^Hnlr^^^JÜLÖnly 
a  new^waRening  of  the  ascetic  .spirit  v^itWn_jhe^jold^_ 
OnTy  in  tEe"coiirse  oHts .develQpm£iit,..£Sfi£dallyJn  its 
extension  to  Americav.didiLJbecome  separate  from  the 

Anglican  Church. 

Pietism  first  split  off  from  the  Calvinistic  movement 
in  England,  and  especially  in  Holland.  It  remained 
loosely  connected  with  orthodoxy,  shading  off  from  it 
by  imperceptible  gradations,  until  at  the  end  of  the 
seventeenth  century  it  was  absorbed  into  Lutheranism 
under  Spener's  leadership.  Though  the  dogmatic 
adjustment  was  not  entirely  satisfactory,  it  remained  a 
movement  within  the  Lutheran  Church.  Only  the 
faction  dominated  by  Zinzendorf,  and  affected  by 
lingering  Hussite  and  Calvinistic  influences  within  the 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

Moravian  brotherhood,  was   forced,   like   Methodism 
against  its  will,  to  form  a  peculiar  sort  of  sect.  Calvinism 
and  Baptism  were  at  the  beginning  of  thek  develop- 
ment~^Karply  opposed  to  each  other.  .But  in  the  Baptism 
"tJf'fhe  litter  part  of  the  seventeenth  century  they  were 
in  close  contact.  And  even  in  the  Independent  sects  of 
England  and  Holland  at  the  beginning  of  the  seven- 
teenth  century   the    transition   w^s   not   abrupt.   As 
Pietism  shows,  the  transition  to  Lutheranism  is  also 
gradual,  and  the  same  is  true  of  Calvinism  and  the 
Anglican  Church,  though  both  in  external  character 
and  in  the  spirit  of  its  most  logical  adherents  the  latter 
is  more  closely  related  to  Catholicism.  It  is  true  that 
both  the  mass  of  the  adherents  and  especially  the 
staunchest  champions  ofthat  ascetic  movement  which, 
in  the  broadest  sense  of  a  highly  ambiguous  word,  has 
been  called  Puritanism,^  did  attack  the  foundations  of 
Anglicanism;  but  even  here  the  differences  were  only 
gradually  worked  out  in  the  course  of  the  struggle. 
Even  if  for  the  present  we  quite  ignore  the  questions 
of  government  and  organization  which  do  not  interest 
us  here,  the  facts  are  just  the  same.  The  dogmatic 
differences,  even  the  most  important,  such  as  those  over 
the  doctrines  of  predestination  and  justification,  were 
combined  in  the  most  complex  ways,  and  even  at  the 
beginning  of  the  seventeenth  century  regularly,  though 
not  without  exception,  prevented  the  maintenance  of 
unity  in  the  Church.  Above  all,  the  types  of  moral 
conduct  in  which  we  are  interested  may  be  found  in  a 
similar  manner  among  the  adherents  of  the  most  various 
denominations,   derived   from   any  one   of  the   four 
sources  mentioned  above,  or  a  combination  of  several 


The  Religious  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

of  them.  We  shall  see  that  similar  ethical  maxims  may 
be  correlated  with  very  different  dogmatic  foundations . 
Also  the  important  literary  tools  for  the  saving  of 
souls,  above  all  the  casuistic  compendia  of  the  various 
denominations,  influenced  each  other  in  the  course  of 
time ;  one  finds  great  similarities  in  them,  in  spite  of 
very  great  differences  in  actual  conduct. 

It  would  almost  seem  as  though  we  had  best  com- 
pletely ignore  both  the  dogmatic  foundations  and  the 
ethical  theory  and  confine  our  attention  to  the  moral 
practice  so  far  as  it  can  be  determined.  That,  however, 
is  not  true.  The  various  different  dogmatic  roots  of 
ascetic  morality  did  no  doubt  die  out  after  terrible 
struggles.  But  the  original  connection  with  those 
dogmas  has  left  behind  important  traces  in  the  later 
undogmatic  ethics ;  moreover,  only  the  knowledge  of  the 
original  body  of  ideas  can  help  us  to  understand  the 
connection  of  that  morality  with  the  idea  of  the  after- 
life which  absolutely  dominated  the  most  spiritual 
men  of  that  time.  Without  its  power,  overshadowing 
everything  else,  no  moral  awakening  which  seriously 
influenced  practical  life  came  into  being  in  that  period. 

We  are  naturally  not  concerned  with  the  question  of 
what  was  theoretically  and  officially  taught  in  the 
ethical  compendia  of  the  time,  however  much  practical 
significance  this  may  have  had  through  the  influence 
of  Church  discipline,  pastoral  work,  and  preaching.^ 

^e  are  interested  rather  in  something  entirely  different^ 
jhe  influence  of  those  psychological  sanctions  which, 
originating  in  religious  belief  and  the  practice  of  re- 
ligion, gave  a  direction  to  practical  conduct  and  held 
3ie  individual  to  it.  Now  these  sanctions  were  to  a  larg^ 


Tlie   Protestant    Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

extent  derived  from  the  peculiarities  of  the  rehgious 
ideas  behind  them.  The  men  of  that  day  were  occupied 
with  abstract  dogmas  to  an  extent  which  itself  can  only 
be  understood  when  we  perceive  the  connection  of 
these  dogmas  with  practical  religious  interests.  A  few 
observations  on  dogma, ^  which  will  seem  to  the  non- 
theological  reader  as  dull  as  they  will  hasty  and  super- 
ficial to  the  theologian,  are  indispensable.  We  can  of 
Icourse  only  proceed  by  presenting  these  religious 
[ideas  in  the  artificial  simplicity  of  ideal  types,  as  they 
[I could  at  best  but  seldom  be  found  in  history.  For  just 
because  of  the  impossibility  of  drawing  sharp  boun- 
daries in  historical  reality  we  can  only  hope  to  under- 
stand their  specific  importance  from  an  investigation  of 
them  in  their  most  consistent  and  logical  forms. 

A.  Calvinism 

Now    Calvinism^    was    the    faith ^   over    which    the 
i  great  political  and  cultural  struggles  of  the  sixteenth 
I  and  seventeenth  centuries  were  fought  in  the  most 
-  highly  developed  countries,  the  Netherlands,  England, 
and  France.  To  it  we  shall  hence  turn  first.  At  that 
time,   and   in   general   even   to-day,    the   doctrine   of 
predestination  was  considered  its  most  characteristic 
dogma.  It  is  true  that  there  has  been  controversy  as  to 
whether  it  is  the  most  essential  dogma  of  the  Reformed 
Church  or  only  an  appendage.  Judgments  of  the  im- 
portance of  a  historical  phenomenon  may  be  judgments 
of  value  or  faith,  namely,  when  they  refer  to  what  is 
alone  interesting,   or  alone  in  the  long  run  valuable 
in  it.  Or,  on  the  other  hand,  they  may  refer  to  its 


The  Religious  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

influence  on  ether  historical  processes  as  a  causal 
factor.  Then  we  are  concerned  with  judgments  of 
historical  imputation.  If  now  we  start,  as  we  must 
do  here,  from  the  latter  standpoint  and  inquire  into 
the  significance  which  is  to  be  attributed  to  that 
dogma  by  virtue  of  its  cultural  and  historical  con- 
sequences, it  must  certainly  be  rated  very  highly.'  The 
movement  which  Oldenbarneveld  led  was  shattered 
by  it.  The  schism  in  the  English  Church  became 
irrevocable  under  James  I  after  the  Crown  and  the 
Puritans  came  to  differ  dogmatically  over  just  this 
doctrine.  Again  and  again  it  was  looked  upon  as  the 
real  element  of  political  danger  in  Calvinism  and 
attacked  as  such  by  those  in  authority.^  The  great 
synods  of  the  seventeenth  century,  above  all  those  of 
Dordrecht  and  Westminster,  besides  numerous  smaller 
ones,  made  its  elevation  to  canonical  authority  the 
central  purpose  of  their  work.  It  served  as  a  rallying- 
point  to  countless  heroes  of  the  Church  militant,  and  in 
both  the  eighteenth  and  the  nineteenth  centuries  it 
caused  schisms  in  the  Church  and  formed  the  battle- 
cry  of  great  new  awakenings.  We  cannot  pass  it  by, 
and  since  to-day  it  can  no  longer  be  assumed  as  known 
to  all  educated  men,  we  can  best  learn  its  content  from 
the  authoritative  words  of  the  Westminster  Confession 
of  1647,  which  in  this  regard  is  simply  repeated  by 
both  Independent  and  Baptist  creeds. 

"Chapter  IX  (of  Free  Will),  No.  3.  Man,  by  his 
fall  into  a  state  of  sin,  hath  wholly  lost  all  ability 
of  will  to  any  spiritual  good  accompanying  salvation. 
So  that  a  natural  man,  being  altogether  averse  from 
that  Good,  and  dead  in  sin,  is  not  able,  by  his  own 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit    of  Capitalism 

strength,   to  convert   himself,  or  to  prepare  himself 


'      "Chapter  III  (of  God's  Eternal  Decree),   No.  3. 

By  the  decree  of  God,  for  the  manifestation  of  His 

I  glory,  some  men  and  angels  are  predestinated  unto  ever- 

VJasting  life,  and  others  foreordained  to  everlasting  death. 

**No.  5.  Those  of  mankind  that  are  predestinated  unto 

life,  God  before  the  foundation  of  the  world  was  laid, 

according  to  His  eternal  and  immutable  purpose,  and 

the  secret  counsel  and  good  pleasure  of  His  will,  hath 

chosen  in  Christ  unto  everlasting  glory,  out  of  His  mere 

free  grace  and  love,  without  any  foresight  of  faith  or 

good  works,  or  perseverance  in  either  of  them,  or  any 

other  thing  in  the  creature  as  conditions,  or  causes 

moving  Him  thereunto,  and  all  to  the  praise  of  His 

glorious  grace. 

''No.  7.  The  rest  of  mankind  God  was  pleased, 
according  to  the  unsearchable  counsel  of  His  own  will, 
whereby  He  extendeth,  or  with-holdeth  mercy,  as  He 
pleaseth,  for  the  glory  of  His  sovereign  power  over  His 
creatures,  to  pass  by,  and  to  ordain  them  to  dishonour 
and  wrath  for  their  sin,  to  the  praise  of  His  glorious 

'  "Chapter  X  (of  Effectual  Calling),  No.  i.  All  those 
whom  God  hath  predestinated  unto  life,  and  those  only. 
He  is  pleased  in  His  appointed  and  accepted  time  effec- 
tually to  call,  by  His  word  and  spirit  (out  of  that  state 
of  sin  and  death,  in  which  they  are  by  nature)  .  .  . 
taking  away  their  heart  of  stone,  and  giving  unto  them 
an  heart  of  flesh;  renewing  their  wills,  and  by  His 
almighty  power  determining  them  to  that  which  is 
good.  .  .  i 

The  Religious  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

' '  Chapter  V  (of  Providence) ,  No .  6 .  As  for  those  wicked 
and  ungodly  men,  whom  God  as  a  righteous  judge,  for 
former  sins  doth  blind  and  harden,  from  them  He  not 
only  with-holdeth  His  grace,  whereby  they  might  have 
been  enlightened  in  their  understandings  and  wrought 
upon  in  their  hearts,  but  sometimes  also  withdraweth 
the  gifts  which  they  had  and  exposeth  them  to  such 
objects  as  their  corruption  makes  occasion  of  sin :  and 
withal,  gives  them  over  to  their  own  lusts,  the  tempta- 
tions of  the  world,  and  the  power  of  Satan:  whereby  it 
comes  to  pass  that  they  harden  themselves,  even  under 
those  means,  which  God  useth  for  the  softening  of 

"Though_l_niay^  be  sent  to  Hell  for  it,  such  4  God 
all  never  command  my  respect",  was  Milton's  well- 

lown  opinion  of  the  doctrine. ^^  But  we  are  here 
concerned  not  with  the  evaluation,  but  the  historical 
significance  of  the  dogma.  We  can  only  JbrieflV-sketch 
the  question  of  how  the  do^rine  originated  and  how  it 
^fitted  into  the  framework  of  Calvinist ic  theology. 

Two  paths  leading  to  it  were  possible.  The  pheno- 
menonof  the  religious  sense  jof  grace  is  combined^^Jn. 
the  mostactiye  and  passionate  of  those  great  worship- 
^ers_which  Christianity  has  produced  again  and  jgain 
since  Augustine,  with  the  feeling  of  certainty  that  that 
grace  is  the  sole  product  of  an  objective  power,  and  not 
in  the  least  to  be^ttributed  to  personal  worthTThe 
powerful  feeling  of  light-hearted  assurance,  in  which 
the  tremendous  pressure  of  their  sense  of  sin  is  released, 
apparently  breaks  over  them  with  elemental  force  and 
destroys  every  possibility  of  the  belief  that  this  over- 
powering gift  of  grace  could  owe  anything  to  their  own 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

/co-operation  or  could  be  connected  with  achievements 
/or  quahties  of  their  own  faith  and  will.  At  the  time  of 
I  Luther's  greatest  religious  creativeness,  when  he  was 
/  capable  of  writing  his  Freiheit  eines  Christenmenschen, 
I  God's  secret  decree  was  also  to  him  most  definitely 
I  the  sole  and  ultimate  source  of  his  state  of  religious 
V-grace.^^  Even  later  he  did  not  formally  abandon  it. 
But  not  only  did  the  idea  not  assume  a  central  position 
for  him,  but  it  receded  more  and  more  into  the  back- 
ground,  the   more  his   position  as   responsible  head 
of   his    Church    forced    him    into    practical    politics. 
Melancthon  quite  deliberately  avoided  adopting  the 
dark    and    dangerous    teaching     in    the     Augsburg 
Confession,  and  for  the  Church  fathers  of  Lutheranism 
it  was  an  article  of  faith  that  grace  was  revocable 
(amissibilis) ,  and    could    be    won    again    by    penitent 
humility  and  faithful  trust  in  the  word  of  God  and  in 
the  sacraments. 
f     With  Calvin  the  process  was  just  the  opposite;  the 
'  significance  of  the  doctrine  for  him  increased,^-  per- 
ceptibly in  the  course  of  his  polemical  controversies 
with  theological  opponents.  It  is  not  fully  developed 
until  the  third  edition  of  his  Institutes,  and  only  gained 
""its  position  of  central  prominence  after  his  death  in 
the  great  struggles  which  the  Synods  of  Dordrecht  and 
Westminster  sought  to  put  an  end  to.  With  Calvin  the 
decretum  horribile  is  derived  not,  as  with  Luther,  from 
religious  experience,  but  from  the  logical  necessity  of 
his  thought;  therefore  its  importance  increases  with 
every  increase  in  the  logical  consistency  of  that  religious 
Ir     thought.  The  interest  of  it  is  solely  in  God,  not  in  man ; 
God  does  not  exist  for  men,  but  men  for  the  sake  of 



The  Religious  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

\God.^^i/All  creation,  including  of  course  the  fact,  as 
irUhdoubtedly  was  for  Calvin,  that  only  a  small  pro-i 
portion  of  men  are  chosen  for  eternal  grace,  can  have  i/ 
any  meaning  only  as  means  to  the  glory  and  majesty; 
3f  God.  To  apply  earthly  standards  of  justice  to  His, 
sovereign  decrees  is  meaningless  and  an  insult  to  His 
Majesty,^*  since  He  and  He  alone  is  free,  i.e.  is  subject 
to  no  law.  His  decrees  can  only  be  understood  by  or 
even  known  to  us  in  so  far  as  it  has  been  His  pleasure  to 
reveal  them.  We  can  only  hold  to  these  fragments  of 
eternal  truth.  Everything  else,  including  the  meaning 
of  our  individual  destiny,  is  hidden  in  dark  mystery 
which  it  would  be  both  impossible  to  pierce  and  pre- 
sumptuous to  question. 

For  the  damned  to  complain  of  their  lot  would  be., 
much  the  same  as  for  animals  to  bemoan  the  fact  they 
were  not  born  as  men.  For  everything  of  the  flesh  i^ 
separated  from  God  by  an  unbridgeable  gulf  and 
deserves  of  Him  only  eternal  death,  in  so  far  as  He 
has  not  decreed  otherwise  for  the  glorification  of  His 
Majesty jjWe  know  only  that  a  part  of  humanity  is  saved, 
the  rest  damned.  To  assume  that  human  merit  or  guilt 
play  a  part  in  determining  this  destiny  would  be  to 
think  of  God's  absolutely  free  decrees,  which  have  been 
settled  from  eternity,  as  subject  to  change  by  human 
influence,  an  impossible  contradiction.  The  Father  in 
heaven  of  the  New  Testament,  so  human  and  under- 
standing, who  rejoices  over  the  repentance  of  a  sinner 
as  a  woman  over  the  lost  piece  of  silver  she  has  found, 
is  gone.  His  place  has  been  taken  by  a  transcendental 
being,  beyond  the  reach  of  human  understanding,  who 
with  His  quite  incomprehensible  decrees  has  decided 



The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

the  fate  of  every  individual  and  regulated  the  tiniest  .^^< 

details  of  the  cosmos  from  eternity .^^  God's  grace  is,    "^ 
-since  His  decrees  cannot  change,  as  impossible  for  those  ^1 
to  whom  He  has  granted  it  to  lose  as  it  is  unattainable ,  ri 
for  those  to  whom  He  has  denied  it.  ^ 

In  its  extreme  inhumanity  this  doctrine  must  above 
all  have  had  one  consequence  for  the  life  of  a  generation 
which  surrendered  to  its  magnificent  consistency.  That 
was  a  feeling  of  unprecedented  inner  loneliness  of  the 
single  individual. ^^  In  what  was  for  the  man  of  the  age 
of  the  Reformation  the  most  important  thing  in  life, 
his  eternal  salvation,  he  was  forced  to  follow  his  path 
alone  to  meet  a  destiny  which  had  been  decreed  for  him 
from  eternity.  No  one  could  help  him.  No  priest,  for 
the  chosen  one  can  understand  the  word  of  God  only 
in  his  own  heart.  No  sacraments,  for  though  the  sacra- 
ments had  been  ordained  by  God  for  the  increase  of 
His  glory,  and  must  hence  be  scrupulously  observed, 
they  are  not  a  means  to  the  attainment  of  grace,  but 
only  the  subjective  externa  subsidia  of  faith.  No  Church, 
for  though  it  was  held  that  extra  ecclesiam  nulla 
salus  in  the  sense  that  whoever  kept  away  from  the 
true  Church  could  never  belong  to  God's  chosen 
band,^'^  nevertheless  the  membership  of  the  external 
Church  included  the  doomed.  They  should  belong  to 
it  and  be  subjected  to  its  discipline,  not  in  order  thus 
to  attain  salvation,  that  is  impossible,  but  because,  for 
the  glory  of  God,  they  too  must  be  forced  to  obey  His 
commandments.  Finally,  even  no  God.  For  even 
Christ  had  died  only  for  the  elect  ,^^  for  whose  benefit 
God  had  decreed  His  martyrdom  from  eternity.  This, 
the  complete  elimination  of  salvation  through  the 

The  Religious  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

Church  and  the  sacraments  (which  was  in  Lutheranism 
by~  no"  means  developed  to  its  final  conclusions),  was 
what  formed  the  absolutely  decisive  difference  from   \\ 

That  great  historic  process  in  the  development  of 
religions,  the  elimination  of  magic  from  the  world^^ 
which  had  begun  with  the  old  Hebrew  prophets  and, 
in  conjunction  with  Hellenistic  scientific  thought,  had 
repudiated  all  magical  means  to  salvation  as  superstition 
and  sin,  came  here  to  its  logical  conclusion.  The  genuine 
Puritan  even  rejected  all  signs  of  religious  ceremony  at 
the  grave  and  buried  his  nearest  and  dearest  without 
song  or  ritual  in  order  that  no  superstition,  no  trust  in 
the  effects  of  magical  and  sacramental  forces  on 
salvation,  should  creep  in.^^ 

There  was  not  only  no  magical  means  of  attaining 
the  grace  of  God  for  those  to  whom  God  had  decided 
to  deny  it,  but  no  means  whatever.  Combined  with  the 
harsh  doctrines  of  the  absolute  transcendentality  of  God 
and  the  corruption  of  everything  pertaining  to  the  flesh, 
this  inner  isolation  of  th^Jndividual  contains,  on  the 
one  hand,  the  reason  for  [the  entirely  negative  attitude^ 
of  Puritanism,. tQ_, all  the  sensuous  and  emotional» 
elements  in  culture  and  in  religion,  because  they  are 
of  no  use  toward  salvation  and  promote  sentimental 
illusions  and  idolatrous  superstitions. (Thus  it  provides 
a  basis  for  a  fundamental  antagonism  to  sensuous 
culture  of  all  kinds. ^^  On  the  other  hand,  it  forms  one 
of  the  roots  of  that  disillusioned  and  pessimistically 
inclined  individualism^^  which  can  even  to-day  be 
identiHed^ih'the  national  characters  and  the  institutions 
of  the  peoples  with  a  Puritan  past,  in  such  a  striking 



The   Protestant   Ethic   and  the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

contrast  to  the  quite  different  spectacles  through  which 
the  EnHghtenment  later  looked  upon  men.^^  We  can 
clearly  identify  the  traces  of  the  influence  of  the 
doctrine  of  predestination  in  the  elementary  forms  of 
conduct  and  attitude  toward  life  in  the  era  with  which 
we  are  concerned,  even  where  its  authority  as  a  dogma 
was  on  the  decline.  It  was  in  fact  only  the  most  extreme 
form  of  that  exclusive  trust  in  God  in  which  we  are 
here  interested.  It  comes  out  for  instance  in  the 
strikingly  frequent  repetition,  especially  in  the  English 
Puritan  literature,  of  warnings  against  any  trust  in 
the  aid  of  friendship  of  men .2'*  Even  the  amiable 
Baxter  counsels  deep  distrust  of  even  one's  closest 
friend,  and  Bailey  directly  exhorts  to  trust  no  one 
and  to  say  nothing  compromising  to  anyone.  Only 
God  should  be  your  confidant .^^  In  striking  con- 
trast to  Lutheranism,  this  attitude  toward  life  was 
also  connected  with  the  quiet  disappearance  of  the 
private  confession,  of  which  Calvin  was  suspicious  only 
on  account  of  its  possible  sacramental  misinterpreta- 
tion, from  all  the  regions  of  fully  developed  Calvinism. 
That  was  an  occurrence  of  the  greatest  importance.  In 
the  first  place  it  is  a  symptom  of  the  type  of  influence 
this  religion  exercised.  Further,  however,  it  was  a 
psychological  stimulus  to  the  development  of  their 
ethical  attitude.  The  means  to  a  periodical  discharge  of 
the  emotional  sense  of  sin  ^^  was  done  away  with. 

Of  the  consequences  for  the  ethical  conduct  of 
everyday  life  we  speak  later.  But  for  the  general 
religious  situation  of  a  man  the  consequences  are 
evident.  In  spite  of  the  necessity  of  membership  in  the 
true  Church  ^'^  for  salvation,  the  Calvinist's  intercourse 
1 06 


The  Religious  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

with  his  God  was  carried  on  in  deep  spiritual  isolation. 
To  see  the  specific  results  ^^  of  this  peculiar  atmosphere, 
it  is  only  necessary  to  read  Bunyan's  Pilgrim's  Progress,^^ 
by  far  the  most  widely  read  book  of  the  whole  Puritan 
literature.  In  the  description  of  Christian's  attitude  after 
he  had  realized  that  he  was  living  in  thft  City  of  Destruc- 
tion and  he  had  received  the  call  to  take  .up  his  pilgrim- 
age to  the  celestial  city,  wife  and  childreh  cling  to  him, 
but  stopping  his  ears  with  his  fingers  and  crying,  "life, 
eternal  life",  he  staggers  forth  across  the  fields.  No 
refinement  could  surpass  the  naive  feeling  of  the  tinker 
who,  writing  in  his  prison  cell,  earned  the  applause  of 
a  believing  world,  in  expressing  the  emotions  of  the 
faithful  Puritan,  thinking  only  of  his  own  salvation.  It 
is  expressed  in  the  unctuous  conversations  which  he 
holds  with  fellow-seekers  on  the  way,  in  a  manner 
somewhat  reminiscent  of  Gottfried  Keller's  Gerechte 
Kammacher.  Only  when  he  himself  is  safe  does  it 
occur  to  him  that  it  would  be  nice  to  have  his  family 
with  him.  It  is  the  same  anxious  fear  of  death  and  the 
beyond  which  we  feel  so  vividly  in  Alfonso  of  Liguori, 
as  Döllinger  has  described  him  to  us.  It  is  worlds 
removed  from  that  spirit  of  proud  worldliness  which 
Machiavelli  expresses  in  relating  the  fame  of  those 
Florentine  citizens  who,  in  their  struggle  against  the 
Pope  and  his  excommunication,  had  held  "Love  of 
their  native  city  higher  than  the  fear  for  the  salvation 
of  their  souls".  And  it  is  of  course  even  farther  from 
the  feelings  which  Richard  Wagner  puts  into  the 
mouth  of  Siegmund  before  his  fatal  combat,  "Grüsse 
mir  Wotan,  grüsse  mir  Wallhall — Doch  von  Wallhall's 
spröden  Wonnen  sprich  du  wahrlich  mir  nicht".  But 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

the  effects  of  this  fear  on  Bunyan  and  Liguori  are 
characteristically  different.  The  same  fear  which  drives 
the  latter  to  every  conceivable  self-humiliation  spurs 
the  former  on  to  a  restless  and  systematic  struggle 
with  life.  Whence  comes  this  difference? 
/   It  seems   at   ßrst   a  mystery   how  the  undoubted 
/  superiority  of  Calvinism  in  social  organization  can  be 
/    connected  witn  this  tendency  to  tear  the  individual 
I    away  from  the  closed  ties  with  which  he  is  bound  to 
\this  world. ^^.  But,  however  strange  it  may  seem,  it 
Ifollows  fron\  the  peculiar  form  which  the  Christian 
brotherly  love  was  forced  to  take  under  the  pressure  of 
the    inner   isolation    of   the    individual    through   the 
Calvinistic  faith.  In  the  first  place  it  follows  dogmatic- 
ally.^^  The  world  exists  to  serve  the  glorification  of  God 
and  for  chat  purpose  alone.  The  elected  Christian  is  in 
the  world  o^Jy  to  increase  this  glory  of  God  by  fulfilling 
His  commandments  to  the  best  of  his  ability.  But  God 
requires  social  achievement  of  the  Christian  because 
j    He  wills  that  social  life  shall  be  organized  according  to 
I    His  commandments,  in  accordance  with  that  purpose. 
The  social ^2  activity  of  the  Christian  in  the  world  is 
solely  activity  in  majorem  gloriam  Dei.  This  character  is 
hence  shared  by  labour  in  a  calling  which  serves  the 
mundane  life  of  the  community.  Even  in  Luther  we 
found  specialized  labour  in  callings  justified  in  terms 
of  brotherly  love.  But  what  for  him  remained  an  un- 
certain, purely  intellectual  suggestion  became  for  the 
Calvinists    a   characteristic   element    in    their   ethical 
system.  Brotherly  love,  since  it  may  only  be  practised 
for  the  glory  of  God^^  and  not  in  the  service  of  the 
flesh, ^^  is  expressed  in  the  first  place  in  the  fulfilment 

The  Religious  Fowtdatiom  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

of  the  daily  tasks  given  by  the  lex  naturce\  and  in  the 
process  this  fulfilment  assumes  a  peculiarly  objective 
and  impersonal  character,  that_of  service  in  thejnterest  _ 

^  of  the  rational  organization  of  our  social  environmej:^' 
For  the  wonderfully  purposeful  organizatior.-^  and 
arrangement  of  this  cosmos  is,  according  botj-'i  to  the 
revelation  of  the  Bible  and  to  natural  intuitior^»  evidently 
designed  by  God  to  serve  the  utility  of  the  V"^^'^  race. 

-    This  makes  labour  in  the  service  of  imperso/?al  social 

I    usefulness  appear  to  promote  the  glory  of  <^»^od  and 
hence  to  be  willed  by  Him.  The  complete  elimifiation 
of  the  theodicy  problem  and  of  all  those  questions  about 
the  meaning  of  the  world  and  of  life,  which  have  tof*^ 
tured  others,  was  as  self-evident  to  the  Puritan  as,  for 
quite  diflferent  reasons,  to  the  Jew,  and  even  in  a  certain 
sense  to  all  the  non-mystical  types  of  Christian  religion. 
^To  this-£CQnomy  of  forces  Calvinism  added  another 
tendency  which  worked  in  the  same  direction.  The 
conflict    betw€€ft-^he  Jftdi^ddual   and  the  ethic   (in 
Sören  Kierkegaard's  sense)  didJiot^exist  fqr^jyinisjn, 
although  it  placed  the  individual  entirely  on  his  own 
responsibility  in   religious  matters.   This  is  not  the 
place  to  analyse  the  reasons  for  this  fact,  or  its  signifi- 
cance for  the  political  and  economic  rationalism  of 
Calvinism.  The  source  of  the  utilitarian  character  of 
fcalvinistic  ethics  lies  here,  and  important  peculiarities 
[of  the  Calvinistic  idea  of  the  calling  were  derived  from 
;  the  same  source  as  well.^^  But  for  the  moment  we  must 
1  return  to  the  special  consideration  of  the  doctrine  of 

f      For  us  the  decisive  problem  is :  How  was  this  doctrine 
borne^^  in  an  age  to  which  the  after-life  was  not  only 



The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit    of  Capitalism 

more  important,  but  in  many  ways  also  more  certain, 
[than  all  the  interests  of   life   in  this  world ?^^  The 
question,  Am  I  one  of  the  elect?  must  sooner  or  later 
ha«.ve  arisen  for  every  believer  and  have  forced  all  other 
interc^^ßts  into  the  background.  And  how  j:an  I  be  sure 
of  this  :?^tate  of  grace  P^^  For  Calvin  himself  this  was 
not  a  proLS>|em.  He  felt  himself  to  be  a  chosen  agent  of 
the  Lord,  " -id  was  certain  of  his  own  salvation.  Accord- 
ingly, t^)',  the  question  of  how  the  individual  can  be 
certain  :of  his  own  election,  he  has  at  bottom  only  the 
answe'r  that  we  should  be  content  with  the  knowledge 
that  '^Jod  has  chosen  and  depend  further  only  on  that 
'implicit  trust  in  Christ  which  is  the  result  of  true  faith. 
He  rejects  in  principle  the  assumption  that  one  can 
learn  from  the  conduct  of  others  whether  they  are 
chosen  or  damned.  It  is  an  unjustifiable  attempt  to 
;force   God's    secrets.  Tlie._elect    differ  externally   in 
this^iife   in  no  way  from   the  damned^® ;  and   even 
all  the  subjective  experiences  of  the  chosen  are,  as 
liidihria  Spiritus  sancti,  possible  for  the  damned  Y^ith. 
the_single_exception  of^hat  finaliter  expectant,  trusting 
faith.  The  elecTlKus  are  and  remain  God's  invisible 

Quite  naturally  this  attitude  was  impossible  for  his 
followers  as  early  as  Beza,  and,  above  all,  for  the  broad 
mass  of  ordinary  men.  For  them  the  certitudo  salutis  in 
the  sense  of  the  recognizability  of  the  state  of  grace 
necessarily  became  of  absolutely  dominant  impor- 
tance.*^ So,  wherever  the  doctrine  of  predestination  was 
held,  the  question  could  not  be  suppressed  whether 
there  were  any  infallible  criteria  by  which  membership 
in  the  electi  could  be  known.  Not  only  has  this  question 

The  Religious  Foundations  of'  Worldly   Asceticism 

continually  had  a  central  importance  in  the  develop- 
ment of  the  Pietism  which  first  arose  on  the  basis  of 
the  Reformed  Church ;  it  has  in  fact  in  a  certain  sense 
at  times  been  fundamental  to  it.  But  when  we  con- 
sider the  great  political  and  social  importance  of  the 
Reformed  doctrine  and  practice  of  the  Communion, 
we  shall  see  how  great  a  part  was  played  during 
the  whole  seventeenth  century  outside  of  Pietism  by 
the  possibility  of  ascertaining  the  state  of  grace 
of~  the  individual.  On  it  depended,  for  instance,  his 
admission  to  Communion,  i.e.  to  the  central  religious 
ceremony  which  determined  the  social  standing  of  the 

It  was  impossible,  at  least  so  far  as  the  question  of  a 
man's  own  state  of  grace  arose,  to  be  satisfied ^^  with 
Calvin's  trust  in  the  testimony  of  the  expectant  faith 
resulting  from  grace,  even  though  the  orthodox  doctrine 
had  never  formally  abandoned  that  criterion. '^^  Above 
all,  practical  pastoral  work,  which  had  immediately  to 
deal  with  afl  the  suffering  caused  by  the  doctrine, 
could  not  be  satisfied.  It  met  these  difficulties  in  various 
ways.*^  So  far  as  predestination  was  not  reinterpreted, 
toned  down,  or  fundamentally  abandoned,**  two  prin- 
cipal, mutually  connected,  types  of  pastoral  advice 
appear.  On  the  one  hand  it  is  held  to  be  an  absolute  j/ 
duty  to  consider  oneself  chosen,  and  to  combat  all 
doubts  as  temptations  of  the  devil, *^  since  lack  of  self- 
confidence  is  the  result  of  insufficient  faith,  hence  of 
imperfect  grace.  The  exhortation  of  the  apostle  to 
make  fast  one's  own  call  is  here  interpreted  as  a  duty 
to  attain  certainty  of  one's  own  election  and  justifica- 
tion in  the  daily  struggle  of  life.  In  the  place  of  the 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

humble  sinners  to  whom  Luther  promises  grace  if 
they  trust  themselves  to  God  in  penitent  faith  are  bred 
those  self-confident  saints ^^  whom  we  can  rediscover 
in  the  hard  Puritan  merchants  of  the  heroic  age  of 
capitalism  and  in  isolated  instances  down  to  the  present. 
On  the  other  hand,  in  j^ldei^o  attain  that  self-con- 
fidence  intense  worldly^activity  is  recommended  as  tue 
most  suitable  means. ^^  It  and  it  alone  dispersesTeligious 
I  doubts  and  gives  the  certainty  of  grace. 

That  worldly  activity  should  be  considered  capable 
of  this  achievement,  that  it  could,  so  to  speak,  be 
considered  the  most  suitable  means  of  counteracting 
feelings  of  religious  anxiety,  finds  its  explanation  m 
the  fundamental  peculiarities  of  religious  feeling  in  the 
Reformed  Church,  which  come  most  clearly  to  light 
in  its  differences  from  Lutheranism  in  the  doctrine  of 
justification  by  faith.  These  differences  are  analysed  so 
subtly  and  with  such  objectivity  and  avoidance  of  value- 
judgments  in  Schneckenburger's  excellent  lectures, ^^ 
that  the  following  brief  observations  can  for  the  most 
part  simply  rest  upon  his  discussion. 
^  The  highest  religious  experience  which  the  Lutheran 
faith  strives  to  attain,  especially  as  it  developed  in  the 
course  of  the  seventeenth  century,  is  the  unio  mystica 
\with  the  deity. ^^  As  the  name  itself,  which  is  unknown 
to  the  Reformed  faith  in  this  form,  suggests,  it  is  a 
feeling  of  actual  absorption  in  the  deity,  that  of  a  real 
entrance  of  the  divine  into  the  soul  of  the  believer.  It 
is  qualitatively  similar  to  the  aim  of  the  contemplation 
of  the  German  mystics  and  is  characterized  by  its 
passive  search  for  the  fulfilment  of  the  yearning'  for 
rest  in  God. 


The  Religious  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

Now  the  history  of  philosophy  shows  that  rehgious 
behef  which  is  primarily  mystical  may  very  well  be 
compatible  with  a  pronounced  sense  of  reality  in  the 
field  of  empirical  fact ;  it  may  even  support  it  directly 
i  on  account  of  the  repudiation  of  dialectic  doctrines. 
Furthermore,  mysticism  may  indirectly  even  further 
the  interests  of  rational  conduct.  Nevertheless,  the 
positive  valuation  of  external  activity  is  lacking  in  its 
relation  to  the  world.  In  addition  to  this,  Lutheranism 
combines  the  unio  mystica  with  that  deep  feeling  of 
sin-stained  unworthiness  which  is  essential  to  preserve 
the  poenitentia  qiiotidiana  of  the  faithful  Lutheran, 
thereby  maintaining  the  humility  and  simplicity  in- 
dispensable for  the  forgiveness  of  sins.  The  typical 
religion  of  the  Reformed  Church,  on  the  other  hand, 
has  from  the  beginning  repudiated  both  this  purely 
inward  emotional  piety  of  Lutheranism  and  the 
Quietist  escape  from  everything  of  Pascal.  A  real'pene- 
tration  of  the  human  soul  by  the  divine  was  made 
impossible  by  the  absolute  transcendentality  of  God 
compared  to  the  flesh :  finitum  non  est  capax  infiniti. 
The  community  of  the  elect  with  their  God  could  only 
take  place  and  be  perceptible  to  them  in  that  God  ^ 
worked  (operatur)  through  them  and  that  they  were  u/ 
conscious  of  it.  That  is,  their  action  originated  from 
the  faith  caused  by  God's  grace,  and  this  faith  in  turn 
justified  itself  by  the  quality  of  that  action.  Deep-lying 
differences  of  the  most  important  conditions  of  salva- 
tion^o  which  apply  to  the  classification  of  all  practical 
religious  activity  appear  here.  The  religious  believer,' 
can  make  himself  sur^  of  his  state  of  grace  either  in 
that  he  feels  himself  to  be  the  vessel  of  the  Holy  Spirit 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

or  the  tool  of  the  divine  will.  In  the  former  case  his 
religious  life  tends  to  mysticism  and  emotionalism,  in 
the  latter  to  ascetic  action;  Luther  stood  close  to  the 
former  type,  Calvinism  belonged  definitely  to  the 
latter.  The  Calvinist  also  wanted  to  be  saved  sola  fide, 
^nt  since  Calvin  viewed  all  pure  feelings  and  emotions, 
no  matter  how  exalted  they  might  seem  to  be,  with 
suspicion  ,^1  faith  had  to  be  proved  by  its  objective 
results  in  order  to  provide  a  firm  foundation  for  the 
certitudo  salutis.  It  must  be  a  fides  efficax,^^  the  call  to 
salvation  an  effectual  calling  (expression  used  in  Savoy 

If  we  now  ask  further,  by  what  fruits  the  Calvinist 
/thought  himself  able  to  identify  true  faith?  the  answer 
[is:  by  a  type  of  Christian  conduct  which  served  to 
j  increase  the  glory  of  God .  Just  what  does  so  serve  is  to 
be  seen  in  his  own  will  as  revealed  either  directly 
through  the  Bible  or  indirectly  through  the  purposeful 
order  of  the  world  which  he  has  created  {lex  natura). ^^ 
Especially  by  comparing  the  condition  of  one's  own 
soul  with  that  of  the  elect,  for  instance  the  patriarchs, 
according  to  the  Bible,  could  the  state  of  one's  own 
grace  be  known  .^*  Only  one  of  the  elect  really  has  the 
fides  efficaXy^^  only  he  is  able  by  virtue  of  his  rebirth 
(regeneratio)  and  the  resulting  sanctification  {sanctifi- 
catio)  of  his  whole  life,  to  augment  the  glory  of  God  by 
real,  and  not  merely  apparent,  good  works.  It  was 
through  the  consciousness  that  his  conduct,  at  least  in 
its  fundamental  character  and  constant  ideal  (propositum 
oboedientice)  y  rested  on  a  power  ^^  within  himself 
working  for  the  glory  of  God ;  that  it  is  not  only  willed 
of  God  but  rather  done  by  God'^^  that  he  attained  the 

The  Religions  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

highest  good  towards  which  this  reHgion  strove,  the 
certainty  of  salvation.^®  That  it  was  attainable  was 
proved  by  2  Cor.  xiii.  5.^®  Thus,  however  useless  goo^ 
works  might  be  as  a  means  of  attaining  salvation,  for 
even  the  elect  remain  beings  of  the  flesh,  and  everything 
they   do   falls    infinitely    short   of  divine    standards, 
nevertheless,  they  are  indispensable  as  a  sign  of  elec- 
tion.^^  They  are  the  technical  means,  not  of  purchasing  , 
salvation,  but  of  getting  rid  of  the  fear  of  damnationj 
In  this  sense  they  are  occasionally  referred  to  as  directly 
necessary  for  salvation^^  or  the  possessio  salutis  is  made 
conditional  on  them.^^ 

Injpra^ice  this  means  that  God  helps  those  who 
help  themselves .^^  Thus  the  Calvinist,  as  it  is  some- 
times put,  himself  creates®*  his  own  salvation,  or,  as 
Nvould  be  more  correct,  the  conviction  of  it.  But  this 
creation  cannot,  as  in  Catholicism,  consist  in  a  gradual 
accumulation  of  individual  good  works  to  one's  credit, 
but  rather  in  a  systematic  self-control  which  at  every 
moment  stands  before  the  inexorable  alternative,  chosen 
or  damned.  This  brings  us  to  a  very  important  point 
in  our  investigation. 

It  is  common  knowledge  that  Lutherans  have  again 
and  again  accused  this  line  of  thought,  which  was 
worked  out  in  the  Reformed  Churches  and  sects  with 
increasing  clarity,®^  of  reversion  to  the  doctrine  of 
salvation  by  works.®®  And  however  justified  the.  protest 
of  the  accused  against  identification  of  their  dogmatic 
position  with  the  Catholic  doctrine,  this  accusation  has 
surely  been  made  with  reason  if  by  it  is  meant  the 
practical  consequences  for  the  everyday  life  of  the 
average  Christian  of  the  Reformed  Church.®^  For  a 



The   Protestant   Ethic   and  the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

more  intensive  form  of  the  religious  valuation  of  moral 
action  than  that  to  which  Calvinism  led  its  adherents 
has  perhaps  never  existed.  But  what  is  important  for 
the  practical  significance  of  this  sort  of  salvation  by 
works  must  be  sought  in  a  knowledge  of  the  particular 
qualities  which  characterized  their  type  of  ethical  con- 
duct and  distinguished  it  from  the  everyday  life  of  an 
average  Christian  of  the  Middle  Ages.  The  difference 
,  .Pf  may  well  be  formulated  as  follows :  the  normal  mediaeval 
v/  Catholic  layman^®  lived  ethically,  so  to  speak,   from 
^  pJjiand  to   mouth.   In  the  first  place  he  conscientiously 
^  ^  ^fulfilled  his  traditional  duties.  But  beyond  that  mini- 
'/U^mum  his  good  works  did  not  necessarily  form  a  con- 
^'m^nected,  or  at  least  not  a  rationalized,  system  of  life, 
0;]  T)ut  rather  remained  a  succession  of  individual  acts. 
•^'^'  He  could  use  them  as  occasion  demanded,  to  atone  for 
^  {3  particular  sins,  to  better  his  chances  for  salvation,  or, 
>^    toward  the  end  of  his  life,  as  a  sort  of  insurance 
premium.  Of  course  the  Catholic  ethic  was  an  ethic  of 
intentions.  But  the  concrete  intentio  of  the  single  act 
/      determined  its  value.  And   the  single  good  or  bad 
/      action  was  credited  to  the  doer  determining  his  tem- 
L^  poral  and  eternal  fate.  Quite  realistically  the  Church 
recognized  that  man  was  not  an  absolutely  clearly  defined 
unity  to  be  judged  one  way  or  the  other,  but  that  his 
moral  life  was  normally  subject  to  conflicting  motives 
and  his  action  contradictory.  Of  course,  it  required  as  an 
ideal  a  change  of  life  in  principle.  But  it  weakened  just 
this  requirement  (for  the  average)  by  one  of  its  most 
important  means  of  power  and  education,  the  sacrament 
of  absolution,  the  function  of  which  was  connected  with 
the  deepest  roots  of  the  peculiarly  Catholic  religion. 

The  Religions  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

~^j  The  rationalization  of  the  world,  the  eHmination  of 
Änagic  as  a  means  to  salvation ,^^  the  Catholics  had  not 
carried  nearly  so  far  as  the  Puritans  (and  before  them 
the  Jews)  had  done.  To  the  -Catholic^^  the  absolution  of 
his  Church  was  a  compensation  for  his  own  imperfec- 
tion. The  priest  was  a  magician  who  performed  the 
miracle  of  transubstantiation,  and  who  held  the  key 
to  eternal  life  in  his  hand.  One  could  turn  to  him  in 
grief  and  penitence.  He  dispensed  atonement,  hppe  of 
grace,  certainty  of  forgiveness,  and  thereby  granted 
release  from  that  tremendous  tension  to  which  the 
Calvinist  was  doomed  by  an  inexorable  fate,  admitting 
of  no  mitigation.  For  him  such  friendly  and  human 
comforts  did  not  exist.  He  could  not  hope  to  atone  for 
hours  of  weakness  or  of  thoughtlessness  by  increased 
good  will  at  other  times,  as  the  Catholic  or  even  the\ 
Lutheran  could.  The  God  of  Calvinism  demanded  of 
his  believers  not  single  good  works,  but  a  life  of  good  Ij 
works  combined  into  a  unified  system.'^  There  was  no  / 
place  for  the  very  human  Catholic  cycle  of  sin,  repent-/ 
ance,  atonement,   release,   followed  by   renewed _sin .' 
Nor  was  there  any  balance  of  merit  for  a  life  as  a  whole 
which  could  be  adjusted  by  temporal  punishments  or 
the  Churches'  means  of  grace. 

'  The  moral  conduct  of  the  average  man  was  thus 
deprived  of  its  planless  and  unsystematic  character  and 
subjected  to  a  consistent  method  for  conduct  as  a 
whole.  It  is  no  accident  that  the  name  of  Methodists 
stuck  to  the  participants  in  the  last  great  revival  of 
Puritan  ideas  in  the  eighteenth  century  just  as  the  term 
Precisians,  which  has  the  same  meaning,  was  applied 
to  their  spiritual  ancestors  in  the  seventeenth  century. "^ 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

For  only  by  a  fundamental  change  in  the  whole  meaning 
of  life  at  every  moment  and  in  every  action '^^  could  the 
effects  of  grace  transforming  a  man  from  the  status 
naturce  to  the  status  gratice  be  proved. 

The  life  of  the  saint  was  directed  solely  toward  a 
transcendental  end,  salvation.  But  precisely  for  that 
reason  it  was  thoroughly  rationalized  in  this  world  and 
dominated  entirely  by  the  aim  to  add  to  the  glory  of 
God  on  earth.  Never  has  the  precept  omnia  in  majorem 
dei  gloriam  been  taken  with  more  bitter  seriousness.'^ 
Only  a  life  guided  by  constant  thought  could  achieve 
conquest  over  the  state  of  nature.  Descartes 's  cogito 
ergo  sum  was  taken  over  by  the  contemporary  Puritans 
with  this  ethical  reinterpretation.'^  It  was  this  rational- 
ization which  gave  the  Reformed  faith  its  peculiar 
ascetic  tendency,  and  is  the  basis  both  of  its  relation- 
ship'^^  to  and  its  conflict  with  Catholicism.  For  naturally 
similar  things  were  not  unknown  to  Catholicism. 

Without  doubt  Christian  asceticism,  both  outwardly 
and  in  its  inner  meaning,  contains  many  different 
things.  But  it  has  had  a  definitely  rational  character  in 
its  highest  Occidental  forms  as  early  as  the  Middle 
Ages,  and  in  several  forms  even  in  antiquity.  The  great 
historical  significance  of  Western  monasticism,  as 
contrasted  with  that  of  the  Orient,  is  based  on  this 
fact,  not  in  all  cases,  but  in  its  general  type.  In  the 
rules  of  St.  Benedict,  still  more  with  the  monks  of 
Cluny,  again  with  the  Cistercians,  and  most  strongly 
the  Jesuits,  it  has  become  emancipated  from  planless 
otherworldliness  and  irrational  self-torture.  It  had 
developed  a  systematic  method  of  rational  conduct  with 
the  purpose  of  overcoming  the  status  natura,  to  free 

The  Religions  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

man  from  the  power  of  irrational  impulses  and  his 
dependence  on  the  world  and  on  nature.  It  attempted 
to  subject  man  to  the  supremacy  of  a  purposeful  will/' 
to  bring  his  actions  under  constant  self-control  with 
a  careful  consideration  of  their  ethical  consequences. 
Thus  it  trained  the  monk,  objectively,  as  a  worker  in 
the  service  of  the  kingdom  of  God,  and  thereby  further, 
subjectively,  assured  the  salvation  of  his  soul.  This 
active__sei£=control,  which  formed  the  end  of  the 
exercitia  of  St.  Ignatius  and  of  the  rational  monastic 
virtues  everywhere,''^  was  also  the  most  important 
practical  ideaLüf  Puritanism. "^^  In  the  deep  contempt 
with  which  the  cool  reserve  of  its  adherents  is  con- 
trasted, in  the  reports  of  the  trials  of  its  martyrs,  with 
the  undisciplined  blustering  of  the  noble  prelates  and 
officials  ^^  can  be  seen  that  respect  for  quiet  self-con- 
trol which  still  distinguishes  the  best  type  of  English 
or  American  gentleman  to-day .^^  To  put  it  in  our 
terms  ^^ :  ,  The  Puritan,  like  every  rational  type  of  j 
asceticism,  tried  to  enable  a  man  to  maintain  and  act  '' 
upon  his  constant  motives,  especially  those  which  it 
taught  him  itself,  against  the  emotions.  In  this  formal 
psychological  sense  of  the  term  it  tried  to  make  him 
into  a  personality.  Contrary  to  many  popular  ideas,  the 
end  of  this  asceticism  was  to  be  able  to  lead  an  alert,  / 
intelligent  life: Jthe  most  urgent  task  the  destruction  6TN 
spontaneous,  impulsive  enjoyment,  the  most  important  / 
means  was  to  bring  order  into  the  conduct  of  its  ' 
adherents.  All  these  important  points  are  emphasized 
'  ,  in  the  rules  of  Catholic  monasticism  as  strongly  ^^  as  in 
the  principles  of  conduct  of  the  Calvinists.^*  On  this 
methodical    control   over   the   whole    man    rests    the 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and  the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

enormous  expansive  power  of  both,  especially  the 
ability  of  Calvinism  as  against  Lutheranism  to  defend 
the  cause  of  Protestantism  as  the  Church  militant. 
^^n  the  other  hand,  the  difference  of  the  Calvinistic 
/from  the  mediaeval  asceticism  is  evident.  It  consisted  in 
I  the  disappearance  of  the  consilia  evaiigelica  and  the 
accompanying  transformation  of  asceticism  to  activity 
within  the  world.  Ims  not  as  though  Catholicism  had 
TCsTficted  the  methodical  life  to  monastic  cells.  This 
was  by  no  means  the  case  either  in  theory  or  in  practice. 
On  the  contrary,  it  has  already  been  pointed  out  that, 
in  spite  of  the  greater  ethical  moderation  of  Catholicism, 
an  ethically  unsystematic  life  did  not  satisfy  the  highest 
ideals  which  it  had  set  up  even  for  the  life  of  the 
layman .^^  The  tertiary  order  of  St.  Francis  was,  for 
instance,  a  powerful  attempt  in  the  direction  of  an 
ascetic  penetration  of  everyday  life,  and,  as  we  know, 
by  no  means  the  only  one.  But,  in  fact,  works  like  the 
Nachfolge  Christi  show,  through  the  manner  in  which 
their  strong  influence  was  exerted,  that  the  way  of  life 
preached  in  them  was  felt  to  be  something  higher  than 
the  everyday  morality  which  sufficed  as  a  minimum, 
and  that  this  latter  was  not  measured  by  such  standards 
as  Puritanism  demanded.  Moreover,  the  practical  use 
made  of  certain  institutions  of  the  Church,  above  all 
of  indulgences  inevitably  counteracted  the  tendencies, 
toward  systematic  worldly  asceticism.  For  that  reason 
it  was  not  felt  at  the  time  of  the  Reformation  to  be 
merely  an  unessential  abuse,  but  one  of  the  most 
fundamental  evils  of  the  Church. 

But  the  most  important  thing  was  the  fact  that  the 
man  who,  par  excellence ,  lived  a  rational  life  in  the 
1 20 


The  Keligioiis  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

religious  sense  was,  and  remained,  alone  the  monk, 
'hus  asceticism,  the  more  strongly  it  gripped  an 
individual,  simply  served  to  drive  him  farther  away 
ifrom  everyday  life,  because  the  holiest  task  was  defin- 
itely to  surpass  all  worldly  morality.®^  Luther,  who  was 
not  in  any  sense  fulfilling  any  law  of  development,  but 
acting  upon  his  quite  personal  experience,  which  was, 
though  at  first  somewhat  uncertain  in  its  practical 
consequences,  later  pushed  farther  by  the  political 
situation,  had  repudiated  that  tendency,  and  Calvinism 
simply  took  this  over  from  him.^'  Sebastian  FranckA 
struck  the  central  characteristic  of  this  type  of  religion 
when  he  saw  the  signifix^ncfi-DfLhe^  Reformation  in  the 
fact  that  now  every_Chnstian  had  to  be  a  monk  all  his-- 
lifg^  The  drain  of  asceticism  from  everyday  worldly 
life  had  been  stopped  by  a  dam,  and  those  passionately 
spiritual  natures  which  had  formerly  supplied  the 
highest  type  of  monk  were  now  forced  to  pursue  their 

ascetic  iHealg  wjthin  mnnHanp  n^-nipptinn«^ 

But  in   the   course  of  its   development   Calvinisi 
added   something  positive-to   thisT— the-  idea  of- the  \ 
necessity__o£4inmng— one's  faitk-in  worldly  activity.^   l 
Therein   it   gave   the   broader '  groups   of  religiously  / 
inclined  people  a  positive  incentive  to  asceticism.  By^ 
founding  its  ethic  in  the  doctrine  of  predestination,  it 
substituted  for  the  spiritual  aristocracy  of  monks  out-L_ 
side  of  and  above  the  world  the  spiritual  aristocracy  of 
the  predestined  saints  of  God  within  the  world .^^  It 
was  an  aristocracy  which,  with  its  character  indelebilis,   V^ 
was  divided  from  the  eternally  damned  remainder  of 
humanity  by  a  more  impassable  and  in  its  invisibility 
niore  terrifying  gulf,^^  than  separated  the  monk  of  the 

K  121 

The   Protestant   Ethic  and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

Middle  Ages  from  the  rest  of  the  world  about  him,  a 
gulf  which  penetrated  all  social  relations  with  its  sharp 
brutality.  This  consciousness  of  divine  grace  of  the 
elect  and  holy  was  accompanied  by  an  attitude  toward 
the  sin  of  one's  neighbour,  not  of  sympathetic  under- 
standing based  on  consciousness  of  one's  own  weakness, 
but  of  hatred  and  contempt  for  him  as  an  enemy  of 
God  bearing  the  .signs  of  eternal  damnation. ^^  This 
sort  of  feeling  was  capable  of  such  intensity  that  it 
sometimes  resulted  in  the  formation  of  sects.  This  was 
the  case  when,  as  in  the  Independent  movement  of  the 
seventeenth  century,  the  genuine  Calvinist  doctrine 
that  the  glory  of  God  required  the  Church  to  bring  the 
damned  under  the  law,  was  outweighed  by  the  con- 
viction that  it  was  an  insult  to  God  if  an  unregenerate 
soul  should  be  admitted  to  His  house  and  partake  in 
the  sacraments,  or  even,  as  a  minister,  administer 
them.®^  Thus,  as  a  consequence  of  the  doctrine  of 
proof,  the  Donatist  idea  of  the  Church  appeared,  as 
in  the  case  of  the  Calvinistic  Baptists.  The  full  logical 
consequence  of  the  demand  for  a  pure  Church,  a 
community  of  those  proved  to  be  in  a  state  of  grace, 
was  not  often  drawn  by  forming  sects.  Modifications 
in  the  constitution  of  the  Church  resulted  from  the 
attempt  to  separate  regenerate  from  unregenerate 
Christians,  those  who  were  from  those  who  were  not 
prepared  for  the  sacrament,  to  keep  the  government  of 
the  Church  or  some  other  privilege  in  the  hands  of  the 
former,  and  only  to  ordain  ministers  of  whom  there 
was  no  question. ^^ 

The  norm  by  which  it  could  always  measure  itself, 
of  which  it  was  evidently  in  need,  this  asceticism 

The  Religions  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

naturally  found  in  the  Bible.  It  is  important  to  note 
that  the  well-known  bibliocracy  of  the  Calvinists  held 
the  moral  precepts  of  the  Old  Testament,  since  it 
was  fully  as  authentically  revealed,  on  the  same  level 
of  esteem  as  those  of  the  New.  It  was  only  neces- 
sary that  they  should  not  obviously  be  applicable  only 
to  the  historical  circumstances  of  the  Hebrews,  or  have 
been  specifically  denied  by  Christ.  For  the  believer, 
the  law  was  an  ideal  though  never  quite  attainable 
norm^*  while  Luther,  on  the  other  hand,  originally 
had  prized  freedom  from  subjugation  to  the  law  as  a 
divine  privilege  of  the  believer. ^^  The  influence  of  the 
God-fearing  but  perfectly  unemotional  wisdom  of  the 
Hebrews,  which  is  expressed  in  the  books  most  read 
by  the  Puritans,  the  Proverbs  and  the  Psalms,  can  be  j 
felt  in  their  whole  attitude  toward  life.  In  particular,  / 
its  rational  suppression  of  the  mystical,  in  fact  the 
whole  emotional  side  of  religion,  has  rightly  been 
attributed  by  Sanford^®  to  the  influence  of  the  Old 
Testament.  But  this  Old  Testament  rationalism  was 
as  such  essentially  of  a  small  bourgeois,  traditionalistic 
type,  and  was  mixed  not  only  with  the  powerful  pathos 
of  the  prophets,  but  also  with  elements  which  encour- 
aged the  development  of  a  peculiarly  emotional  type  of 
religion  even  in  the  Middle  Ages.^'  It  was  thus  in  the 
last  analysis  the  peculiar,  fundamentally  ascetic,  char- 
acter of  Calvinism  itself  which  made  it  select  and 
assimilate  those  elements  of  Old  Testament  religion 
which  suited  it  best. 

Now  that  systematization  of  ethical  conduct  which 
the  asceticism  of  Calvinistic  Protestantism  had  in 
common  with  the  rational  forms  of  life  in  the  Catholic 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

orders  is  expressed  quite  superficially  in  the  way  in 
which  the  conscientious  Puritan  continually  super- 
vised^^ his  own  state  of  grace.  To  be  sure,  the  religious 
account-books  in  which  sins,  temptations,  and  progress 
made  in  grace  were  entered  or  tabulated  were  common 
to  both  the  most  enthusiastic  Reformed  circles^^  and 
some  parts  of  modern  Catholicism  (especially  in 
France),  above  aU  under  the  influence  of  the  Jesuits. 
But  in  Catholicism  it  served  the  purpose  of  complete- 
ness of  the  confession,  or  gave  the  directeur  de  Vame  a 
basis  for  his  authoritarian  guidance  of  the  Christian 
(mostly  female).  The  Reformed  Christian,  however, 
felt  his  own  pulse  with  its  aid.  It  is  mentioned  by  all 
the  moralists  and  theologians,  while  Benjamin  Frank- 
lin's tabulated  statistical  book-keeping  on  'his  progress 
in  the  different  virtues  is  a  classic  example. ^^^  On  the 
other  hand,  the  old  mediaeval  (even  ancient)  idea  of 
God's  book-keeping  is  carried  by  Bunyan  to  the 
characteristically  tasteless  extreme  of  comparing  the 
relation  of  a  sinner  to  his  God  with  that  of  customer 
and  shopkeeper.  One  who  has  once  got  into  debt  may 
well,  by  the  product  of  all  his  virtuous  acts,  succeed 
in  paying  off  the  accumulated  interest  but  never  the 
principal. ^^^ 

As  he  observed  his  own  conduct,  the  later  Puritan 
also  observed  that  of  God  and  saw  His  finger  in  all  the 
details  of  life.  And,  contrary  to  the  strict  doctrine  of 
Calvin,  he  always  knew  why  God  took  this  or  that 
measure.  The  process  of  sanctifying  life  could  thus 
almost  take  on  the  character  of  a  business  enterp rise. ^^^ 
A  thoroughgoing  Christianization  of  the  whole  of  life 
was  the  consequence  of  this  methodical  quality  of 

The  Religious  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

ethical  conduct  into  which  Calvinism  as  distinct  from 
Lutheranism  forced  men.  That  this  rationajitx__a[as-^ 
decisive  in  its  influence  on  practical  life  must  always 
be  borne  in  mind  in  order  rightly  to  understand  the 
influence  of  Calvinism.  On  the  one  hand  we  can  see 
that  it  took  this  element  to  exercise  such  an  influence 
at  all.  But  other  faiths  as  well  necessarily  had  a  similar 
influence  when  their  ethical  motives  were  the  same  in 
this  decisive  point,  the  doctrine  of  proof. 
K-So-iar  we  haveconsidered  only  Calyinismj^  and  have 
thus   flSRumed    therfnrtnne   of  nredestinatinn    as   the 

dogmatic  background  of  the  Puritan  morality  in  the 
sense  of  melTiodically  rationaliyH  pthjc^WvynHiirt  This 
could  be  done  because  the  influence  of  thaTHogma  in 
fact  extended  far  beyond  the  single  religious  group 
which  held  in  all  respects  strictly  to  Calvinistic  prin- 
ciples, the  Presbyterians.  Not  only  the  Independent 
Savoy  Declaration  of  1658,  but  also  the  Baptist  Con- 
fession of  Hanserd  Knollyof  1689  contained  it,  and  it 
had  a  place  within  Methodism.  Although  John  Wesley, 
the  great  organizing  genius  of  the  movement,  was  a 
believer  in  the  universality  of  Grace,  one  of  the  great 
agitators  of  the  first  generation  of  Methodists  and  their 
most  consistent  thinker,  Whitefield,  was  an  adherent  of 
the  doctrine.  The  same  was  true  of  the  circle  around 
Lady  Huntingdon,  which  for  a  time  had  considerable 
influence.  It  was  this  doctrine  in  its  magnificent  con- 
sistency which,  in  the  fateful  epoch  of  the  seventeenth 
century,  upheld  the  belief  of  the  militant  defenders  of 
the  holy  life  that  they  were  weapons  in  the  hand  of 
God,  and  executors  of  His  providential  will.^^^  More- 
over, it  prevented  a  premature  collapse  into  a  purely 



The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

utilitarian  doctrine  of  good  works  in  this  world  which 
would  never  have  been  capable  of  motivating  such 
tremendous  sacrifices  for  non-rational  ideal  ends. 

The  combination  of  faith  in  absolutely  valid  norms 
with  absolute  determinism  and  the  complete  trans- 
cendentality  of  God  was  in  its  way  a  product  of  great 
genius.  At  the  same  time  it  was,  in  principle,  very 
much  more  modern  than  the  milder  doctrine,  making 
greater  concessions  to  the  feelings  which  subjected 
God  to  the  moral  law.  Above  all,  we  shall  see  again 
and  again  how  fundamental  is  the  idea  of  proof  for  our 
problem,  Since  its  practical  significance  as  a  psycho- 
logical basis  for  rational  morality  could  be  studied  in 
such  purity  in  the  doctrine  of  predestination,  it  was 
best  to  start  there  with  the  doctrine  in  its  most  con- 
sistent form.  But  it  forms  a  recurring  framework  for 
the   connection   between   faith   and   conduct   in   the 
denominations  to  be  studied  below.  Within  the  Pro- 
testant movement  the  consequences  which  it  inevitably 
had  for  the  ascetic  tendencies  of  the  conduct  of  its  first 
adherents  form  in  principle  the  strongest  antithesis  to 
the  relative  moral  helplessness  of  Lutheranism.  The 
Lutheran  gratia  amissibilis,  which   could   always   be 
regained  through  penitent  contrition  evidently,  in  itself, 
contained  no  sanction  for  what  is  for  us  the  most 
important  result  of  ascetic  Protestantism,  a  systematic 
rational  ordering  of  the  moral  life  as  a  whole  .1^*  The 
Lutheran  faith  thus  left  the  spontaneous  vitality  of 
impulsive  action  and  naive  emotion  more  nearly  un- 
changed. The  motive  to  constant  self-control  and  thus 
to  a  deliberate  regulation  of  one's  own  life,  which  the 
gloomy  doctrine  of  Calvinism  gave,  was  lacking.  A 


The  Religions  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

religious  genius  like  Luther  could  live  in  this  atmo- 
sphere of  openness  and  freedom  without  difficulty  and, 
so  long  as  his  enthusiasm  was  powerful  enough,  without 
danger  of  falling  back  into  the  status  naturalis.  That 
1^  simple,  sensitive,  and  peculiarly  emotional  form  of 
piety,  which  is  the  ornament  of  many  of  the  highest 
types  of  Lutherans,  like  their  free  and  spontaneous 
morality,  finds  few  parallels  in  genuine  Puritanism,  but 
many  more  in  the  mild  Anglicanism  of  such  men  as 
Hooker,  Chillingsworth,  etc.  But  for  the  everyday 
Lutheran,  even  the  able  one,  nothing  was  more  certain 
than  that  he  was  only  temporarily,  as  long  as  the  single 
confession  or  sermon  affected  him,  raised  above  the 
status  naturalis. 

There  was  a  great  difference  which  was  very  striking 
to  contemporaries  between  the  moral  standards  of  the 
courts  of  Reformed  and  of  Lutheran  princes,  the  latter 
often  being  degraded  by  drunkenness  and  vulgarity .^^^ 
Moreover,  the  helplessness  of  the  Lutheran  clergy, 
with  their  emphasis  on  faith  alone,  against  the  ascetic 
Baptist  movement,  is  well  known.  The  typical  German 
quality  often  called  good  nature  (Gemütlichkeit)  or 
naturalness  contrasts  strongly',  even  in  the  facial 
expressions  of  people,  with  the  effects  of  that  thorough 
destruction  of  the  spontaneity  of  the  status  naturalis 
in  the  Anglo-American  atmosphere,  which  Germans 
are  accustomed  to  judge  unfavourably  as  narrowness, 
unfreeness,  and  inner  constraint.  But  the  differences  of 
conduct,  which  are  very  striking,  have  clearly  originated 
in  the  lesser  degree  of  ascetic  penetration  of  life  in 
Lutheranism  as  distinguished  from  Calvinism.  The 
antipathy   of  every   spontaneous   child   of  nature   to 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

everything  ascetic  is  expressed  in  those  feeHngs.  The 

fact  is  that  Lutheranism,  on  account  of  its  doctrine  of 

gracejä-cked  a  psychological  sanction  of  systematic  con- 

luct  to  compel  the  methodical  rationalization  of  life. 

This  sanction,  which  conditions  the  ascetic  character 
of  religion,  could  doubtless  in  itself  have  been  furnished 
by  various  different  religious  motives,  as  we  shall  soon 
see.  The  Calvinistic  doctrine  of  predestination  was 
only  one  of  several  possibilities.  But  nevertheless  we 
have  become  convinced  that  in  its  way  it  had  not  only 
a  quite  unique  consistency,  but  that  its  psychological 
effect  was  extraordinarily  powerful. ^^^  In  comparison 
with  it  the  non-Calvinistic  ascetic  movements,  con- 
sidered purely  from  the  view-point  of  the  religious 
motivation  of  asceticism,  form  an  attenuation  of  the 
inner  consistency  and  power  of  Calvinism. 

But  even  in  the  actual  historical  development  the 
situation  was,  for  the  most  part,  such  that  the  Calvinistic 
form  of  asceticism  was  either  imitated  by  the  other 
ascetic  movements  or  used  as  a  source  of  inspiration  or 
of  CQmparison  in  the  development  of  their  divergent 
principles.  Where,  in  spite  of  a  different  doctrinal  basis, 
similar  ascetic  features  have  appeared,  this  has  gener- 
ally been  the  result  of  Church  organization.  Of  this  we 
shall  come  to  speak  in  another  connection.^^^ 

B.  Pietism 

Historically  the  doctrine  of  predestination  is  also  the 
starting-point  of  the  ascetic  movement  usually  known 
as  Pietism.  In  so  far  as  the  movement  remained  within 
the  Reformed  Church,  it  is  almost  impossible  to  draw 

The  Religious  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

the  line  between  Pietistic  and  non-Pietistic  Calvinists.^^® 
Almost  all  the  leading  representatives  of  Puritanism  are 
sometimes  classed  among  the  Pietists.  It  is  even  quite 
legitimate  to  look  upon  the  whole  connection  between 
predestination  and  the  doctrine  of  proof,  with  its 
fundamental  interest  in  the  attainment  of  the  certitudo 
salutis  as  discussed  above,  as  in  itself  a  Pietistic  develop- 
ment of  Calvin's  original  doctrines.  The  occurrence 
of  ascetic  revivals  within  the  Reformed  Church  was, 
especially  in  Holland,  regularly  accompanied  by  a 
regeneration  of  the  doctrine  of  predestination  which 
had  been  temporarily  forgotten  or  not  strictly  held  to. 
Hence  for  England  it  is  not  customary  to  use  the  term 
Pietism  at  alL^^^ 

But  even  the  Continental  (Dutch  and  Lower  Rhenish) 
Pietism  in  the  Reformed  Church  was,  at  least  funda- 
mentally, just  as  much  a  simple  intensification  of  the 
Reformed  asceticism  as,  for  instance,  the  doctrines  of 
Bailey.  The  emphasis  was  placed  so  strongly  on  the 
praxis  pietatis  that  doctrinal  orthodoxy  was  pushed  into 
the  background;  at  times,  in  fact,  it  seemed  quite  a 
matter  of  indifference.  Those  predestined  for  grace 
could  occasionally  be  subject  to  dogmatic  error  as  well 
as  to  other  sins  and  experience  showed  that  often  those 
Christians  who  were  quite  uninstructed  in  the  theology 
of  the  schools  exhibited  the  fruits  of  faith  most  clearly, 
while  on  the  other  hand  it  became  evident  that  mere 
knowledge  of  theology  by  no  means  guaranteed  the 
proof  of  faith  through  conduct  .^^^ 

Thus  election  could  not  be  proved  by  theological 
learning  at  all.^^^  Hence  Pietism,  with  a  deep  distrust 
of  the  Church  of  the  theologians, ^i-  to  which — this  is 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

characteristic  of  it — it  still  belonged  officially,  began  to 
gather  the  adherents  oi  the  praxis  pietatis  in  conventicles 
removed  from  the  world .^^^  It  wished  to  make  the  in- 
visible Church  of  the  elect  visible  on  this  earth.  Without 
going  so  far  as  to  form  a  separate  sect,  its  members 
attempted  to  live,  in  this  community,  a  life  freed  from 
all  the  temptations  of  the  world  and  in  all  its  details 
dictated  by  God's  will,  and  thus  to  be  made  certain  of 
their  own  rebirth  by  external  signs  manifested  in  their 
daily  conduct.  Thus  the  ecclesiola  of  the  true  converts — 
this  was  common  to  all  genuinely  Pietistic  groups — 
wished,  by  means  of  intensified  asceticism,  to  enjoy  the 
blissfulness  of  community  with  God  in  this  life. 

Now  this  latter  tendency  had  something  closely 
related  to  the  Lutheran  unio  mystica,  and  very  often 
led  to  a  greater  emphasis  on  the  emotional  side  of 
religion  than  was  acceptable  to  orthodox  Calvinism.  In 
fact  this  may,  from  our  view-point,  be  said  to  be  the 
decisive  characteristic  of  the  Pietism  which  developed 
within  the  Reformed  Church.  For  this  element  of 
emotion,  which  was  originally  quite  foreign  to  Calvin- 
ism, but  on  the  other  hand  related  to  certain  mediaeval 
forms  of  religion,  led  religion  in  practice  to  strive  for 
the  enjoyment  of  salvation  in  this  world  rather  than  to 
engage  in  the  ascetic  struggle  for  certainty  about  the 
future  world.  Moreover,  the  emotion  was  capable  of 
such  intensity,  that  religion  took  on  a  positively  hys- 
terical character,  resulting  in  the  alternation  which  is 
familiar  from  examples  without  number  and  neuro- 
pathologically  understandable,  of  half-conscious  states 
of  religious  ecstasy  with  periods  of  nervous  exhaustion, 
which  were  felt  as  abandonment  by  God.  The  effect 

The  Religions  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

was  the  direct  opposite  of  the  strict  and  temperate 
discipHne  under  which  men  were  placed  by  the  syste- 
matic life  of  hoHness  of  the  Puritan.  It  meant  a  weaken- 
ing of  the  inhibitions  which  protected  the  rational 
personality  of  the  Calvinist  from  his  passions .^^* 
Similarly  it  was  possible  For  the  Calyinistic  idea  of  the^ 
depravity  oF  the  fleih,  taken  emotionally,  for  instance  in 
the  form  of  the  so-called  womT^feeling,  to  lead  to  a 
deadening  oF  enterprise  in  worldly  activity  .^^^  Even  the 
doctrine  of  predestination  could  lead  to  fatalism  if, 
contrary  to  the  predominant  tendencies  of  rational 
Calvinism,  it  were  made  the  object  of  emotional  con- 
templation .^^^  Finally,  the  desire  to  separate  the  elect 
from  the  world  could,  with  a  strong  emotional  intensity, 
lead  to  a  sort  of  monastic  community  life  of  half- 
communistic  character,  as  the  history  of  Pietism,  even 
within  the  Reformed  Church,  has  shown  again  and 
again  .^^^ 

But  so  long  as  this  extreme  effect,  conditioned  by 
this  emphasis  on  emotion,  did  not  appear,  as  long  as 
Reformed  Pietism  strove  to  make  sure  of  salvation 
within  the  everyday  routine  of  life  in  a  worldly  calling, 
the  practical  effect  of  Pietistic  principles  was  an  even 
stricter  ascetic  control  of  conduct  in  the  calling,  which 
provided  a  still  more  solid  religious  basis  for  the  ethic 
of  the  calling,  than  the  mere  worldly  respectability  of 
the  normal  Reformed  Christian,  which  was  felt  by  the 
superior  Pietist  to  be  a  second-rate  Christianity.  The 
religious  aristocracy  of  the  elect,  which  developed  in 
every  form  of  Calvinistic  asceticism,  the  more  seriously 
it  was  taken,  the  more  surely,  was  then  organized,  in 
Holland,  on  a  voluntary  basis  in  the  form  of  conven- 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

tides  within  the  Church.  In  EngHsh  Puritanism,  on  the 
other  hand,  it  led  partly  to  a  virtual  differentiation 
between  active  and  passive  Christians  within  the 
Church  organization,  and  partly,  as  has  been  shown 
above,  to  the  formation  of  sects. 

On  the  other  hand,  the  development  of  German 
Pietism  from  a  Lutheran  basis,  with  which  the  names 
of  Spener,  Francke,  and  Zinzendorf  are  connected, 
led  away  from  the  doctrine  of  predestination.  But  at 
the  same  time  it  was  by  no  means  outside  the  body 
of  ideas  of  which  that  dogma  formed  the  logical 
climax,  as  is  especially  attested  by  Spener's  own 
account  of  the  influence  which  English  and  Dutch 
Pietism  had  upon  him,  and  is  shown  by  the  fact  that 
Bailey  was  read  in  his  first  conventicles.^^® 

From  our  special  point  of  view,  at  any  rate.  Pietism 
meant  simply  the  penetration  of  methodically  controlled 
and  supervised,  thus  of  ascetic,  conduct  into  the  non- 
^alvinistic  denominations  .^^^  But  Lutheranism  neces- 
sarily felt  this  rational  asceticism  to  be  a  foreign  element, 
and  the  lack  of  consistency  in  German  Pietistic  doc- 
trines was  the  result  of  the  difficulties  growing  out  of 
that  fact.  As  a  dogmatic  basis  of  systematic  religious 
conduct  Spener  combines  Lutheran  ideas  with  the 
specifically  Calvinistic  doctrine  of  good  works  as  such 
which  are  undertaken  with  the  "intention  of  doing 
honour  to  God".^^^  He  also  has  a  faith,  suggestive  of 
Calvinism,  in  the  possibility  of  the  elect  attaining  a 
relative  degree  of  Christian  perfection  .^^^  But  the 
theory  lacked  consistency.  Spener,  who  was  strongly 
influenced  by  the  mystics ,^^2  attempted,  in  a  rather 
uncertain  but  essentially  Lutheran  manner,  rather  to 

The  Religious  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

describe  the  systematic  type  of  Christian  conduct 
which  was  essential  to  even  his  form  of  Pietism  than 
to  justify  it.  He  did  not  derive  the  certitudo  saliitishom. 
sanctification ;  instead  of  the  idea  of  proof,  he  adopted 
Luther's  somewhat  loose  connection  between  faith  and 
works,  which  has  been  discussed  above. ^^^ 

But  again  and  again,  in  so  far  as  the  rational  and 
ascetic  element  of  Pietism  outweighed  the  emotional, 
the  ideas  essential  to  our  thesis  maintained  their  place. 
These  were:  (i)  that  the  methodical  development  of  / 
one's  own  state  of  grace  to  a  higher  and  higher  degree 
of  certainty  and  perfection  in  terms  of  the  law  was  a 
sign  of  grace  ^2*;  and  (3)  that  "God's  Providence  works 
through  those  in  such  a  state  of  perfection",  i.e.  in  that 
He  gives  them  His  signs  if  they  wait  patiently  and 
deliberate  methodically .^^^  Labour  in  a  calling  was  also 
the  ascetic  activity /»ar  excellence  for  A.  H.  Francke  ^2^; 
that  God  Himself  blessed  His  chosen  ones  through  the 
success  of  their  labours  was  as  undeniable  to  him  as  we 
shall  find  it  to  have  been  to  the  Puritans. 

And  as  a  substitute  for  the  double  decree  Pietism 
worked  out  ideas  which,  in  a  way  essentially  similar  to 
Calvinism,  though  milder,  established  an  aristocracy  of 
the  elect^^'  resting  on  God's  especial  grace,  with  all 
the  psychological  results  pointed  out  above.  Among 
them  belongs,  for  instance,  the  so-called  doctrine  of 
Terminism,^28  ^hich  was  generally  (though  unjustly) 
attributed  to  Pietism  by  its  opponents.  It  assumes 
that  grace  is  offered  to  all  men,  but  for  everyone 
either  once  at  a  definite  moment  in  his  life  or  at 
some  moment  for  the  last  time.i^»  Anyone  who  let 
that    moment    pass   was    beyond    the   help    of    the 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

universality  of  grace ;  he  was  in  the  same  situation  as 
those  neglected  by  God  in  the  Calvinistic  doctrine. 
Quite  close  to  this  theory  was  the  idea  which  Francke 
took  from  his  personal  experience,  and  which  was  very 
widespread  in  Pietism,  one  may  even  say  predomi- 
nant, that  grace  could  only  become  effective  under 
certain  unique  and  peculiar  circumstances,  namely, 
after  previous  repentance .^^^  Since,  according  to  Pietist 
doctrine,  not  everyone  was  capable  of  such  experiences, 
those  who,  in  spite  of  the  use  of  the  ascetic  methods 
recommended  by  the  Pietists  to  bring  it  about,  did  not 
attain  it,  remained  in  the  eyes-t)f  the  regenerate  a  sort 
of  passive  Christian.  On  the  other  hand,  by  the  creation 
of  a  rnethodjto_induce  repentance  even  the  attainment 
of  divine  grace  became  in  effect  an  object  of  rational 
human  activity. 

Moreover,  the  antagonism  to  the  private  confessional, 
which,  though  not  shared  by  all — ^for  instance,  not  by 
Francke — ^was  characteristic  of  many  Pietists,  especially, 
as  the  repeated  questions  in  Spener  show,  of  Pietist 
pastors,  resulted  from  this  aristocracy  of  grace.  This 
antagonism  helped  to  weaken  its  ties  with  Lutheranism. 
The  visible  effects  on  conduct  of  grace  gained  through 
repentance  formed  a  necessary  criterion  for  admission 
to  absolution;  hence  it  was  impossible  to  let  contritio 
alone  suffice  .^^^ 

Zinzendorf's  conception  of  his  own  religious  posi- 
tion, even  though  it  vacillated  in  the  face  of  attacks 
from  orthodoxy,  tended  generally  toward  the  instru- 
mental idea.  Beyond  that,  however,  the  doctrinal 
standpoint  of  this  remarkable  religious  dilettante,  as 
Ritschl  calls  him,  is  scarcely  capable  of  clear  formula- 


The  Religions  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

tion  in  the  points  of  importance  for  us.^^^  He  repeatedly 
designated  himself  a  representative  of  Pauline-Lutheran 
Christianity;  hence  he  opposed  the  Pietistic  type 
associated  with  Jansen  with  its  adherence  to  the  law. 
But  the  Brotherhood  itself  in  practice  upheld,  as  early 
as  its  Protocol  of  August  12,  1729,  a  standpoint  which 
in  many  respects  closely  resembled  that  of  the  Gal- 
vinistic  aristocracy  of  the  elect.^^^  And  in  spite  of  his 
repeated  avowals  of  Lutheranism/^*  he  permitted  and 
encouraged  it.  The  famous  stand  of  attributing  the  Old 
Testament  to  Christ,  taken  on  November  12,  1741,  was 
the  outward  expression  of  somewhat  the  same  attitude. 
However,  of  the.  three  branches  of  the  Brotherhood, 
both  the  Calvinistic  and  the  Moravian  accepted  the 
Reformed  ethics  in  essentials  from  the  beginning. 
And  even  Zinzendorf  followed  the  Puritans  in  ex- 
pressing to  John  Wesley  the  opinion  that  even  though 
a  man  himself  could  not,  others  could  know  his  state 
of  grace  by  his  conduct  .^^^ 

But  on  the  other  hand,  in  the  peculiar  piety  of 
Hermhut,  the  emotional  element  held  a  very  prominent 
place.  In  particular  Zinzendorf  himself  continually 
attempted  to  counteract  the  tendency  to  ascetic 
sanctification  in  the  Puritan  sense  ^^®  and  to  turn  the 
interpretation  of  good  works  in  a  Lutheran  direction.^^' 
Also  under  the  influence  of  the  repudiation  of  con- 
venticles and  the  retention  of  the  confession,  there 
developed  an  essentially  Lutheran  dependence  on  the 
sacraments.  Moreover,  Zinzendorf 's  peculiar  principle 
that  the  childlikeness  of  religious  feeling  was  a  sign  of 
its  genuineness,  as  well  as  the  use  of  the  lot  as  a  means 
of   revealing   God's   will,   strongly   counteracted    the 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit    of   Capitalism 

influence  of  rationality  in  conduct.  On  the  whole, 
within  the  sphere  of  influence  of  the  Count,^^®  the 
anti-rational,  emotional  elements  predominated  much 
more  in  the  religion  of  the  Herrnhuters  than  elsewhere 
in  Pietism. ^^^  The  connection  between  morality  and 
the  forgiveness  of  sins  in  Spangenberg's  Idea  fides 
fratrum  is  as  loose  ^^^  as  in  Lutheranism  generally. 
Zinzendorf's  repudiation  of  the  Methodist  pursuit  of 
perfection  is  part,  here  as  everywhere,  of  his  funda- 
mentally eudasmonistic  ideal  of  having  men  experience 
eternal  bliss  (he  calls  it  happiness)  emotionally  in  the 
present, ^^^  instead  of  encouraging  them  by  rational 
labour  to  make  sure  of  it  in  the  next,  world .^'^^ 

Nevertheless,  the  idea  that  the  most  important  value 
of  the  Brotherhood  as  contrasted  with  other  Churches 
lay  in  an  active  Christian  life,  in  missionary,  and,  which 
was  brought  into  connection  with  it,  in  professional 
■  work  in  a  calling,^ ^^  remained  a  vital  force  with  them. 
In  addition,  the  practical  rationalization  of  life  from 
the  standpoint  of  utility  was  very  essential  to  Zinzen- 
dorf's philosophy.^**  It  was  derived  for  him,  as  for 
other  Pietists,  on  the  one  hand  from  his  decided  dislike 
of  philosophical   speculation    as    dangerous   to   faith, 
and  his  corresponding  preference  for  empirical  know- 
ledge ^*^;  on  the  other  hand,  from  the  shrewd  common 
sense  of  the  professional  missionary.  The  Brotherhood 
was,  as  a  great  mission  centre,  at  the  same  time  a 
business  enterprise.  Thus  it  led  its  members  into  the 
paths  of  worldly  asceticism,  which  everywhere  first 
seeks  for  tasks  and  then  carries  them  out  carefully  and 
systematically.  However,  the  glorification  of  the  apos- 
tolic   poverty,    of    the    disciples  ^*^    chosen    by    God 


The  Religious  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

through  predestination,  which  was  derived  from  the 
example  of  the  apostles  as  missionaries,  formed  another 
obstacle.  It  meant  in  effect  a  partial  revival  of  the 
consilia  evangelica.  The  development  of  a  rational 
economic  ethic  similar  to  the  Calvinistic  was  certainly 
retarded  by  these  factors,  even  though,  as  the  develop- 
ment of  the  Baptist  movement  shows,  it  was  not 
impossible,  but  on  the  contrary  subjectively  strongly 
encouraged  by  the  idea  of  work  solely  for  the  sake 
of  the  calling. 

All  in  all,  when  we  consider  German  Pietism  from 
the  point  of  view  important  for  us,  we  must  admit  a 
vacillation  and  uncertainty  in  the  religious  basis  of  its 
asceticism  which  makes  it  definitely  weaker  than  the 
iron  consistency  of  Calvinism,  and  which  is  partly  the 
result  of  Lutheran  influences  and  partly  of  its  emotional 
character.  To  be  sure,  it  is  very  one-sided  to  make  this 
emotional  element  the  distinguishing  characteristic  of 
Pietism  as  opposed  to  Lutheranism.^^'  But  compared 
to  Calvinism,  the  rationalization  of  life  was  necessarily 
less  intense  because  the  pressure  of  occupation  with  a 
state  of  grace  which  had  continually  to  be  proved,  and 
which  was  concerned  for  the  future  in  eternity,  was 
diverted  to  the  present  emotional  state.  The  place  of 
the  self-confidence  which  the  elect  sought  to  attain,  and 
continually  to  renew  in  restless  and  successful  work  at 
his  calling,  was  taken  by  an  attitude  of  humility  and 
abnegation .1^^  This  in  turn  was  partly  the  result  of 
emotional  stimulus  directed  solely  toward  spiritual 
experience;  partly  of  the  Lutheran  institution  of  the 
confession,  which,  though  it  was  often  looked  upon 
with  serious  doubts  by  Pietism,  was  still  generally 

L  137 

The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

tolerated .^*^  All  this  shows  the  influence  of  the  pecu- 
liarly Lutheran  conception  of  salvation  by  the  forgive- 
ness of  sins  and  not  by  practical  sanctification.(l[n  place 
^of  the  systematic  rational  struggle  to  attain  ana  retain 
certain  knowledge  of  future  (otherworldly)  salvation 
comes  here  the  need  to  feel  reconciliation  and  com- 
munity with  God  now.  Thus  the  tendency  of  the  pursuit 
of  present  enjoyment  to  hinder  the  rational  organization 
of  economic  life,  depending  as  it  does  on  provision  for 
the  future,  has  in  a  certain  sense  a  parallel  in  the  field 
of  religious  life. 

Evidently,  then,  thie  orientation  of  religious  needs  to 
present  emotional  satisfaction  could  not  develop  so 
powerful  a  motive  to  rationalize  worldly  activity,  as 
J:he  need  of  the  Calvinistic  elect  for  proof  with  their 
exclusive  preoccupation  with  the  beyond.  On  the 
other  hand,  it  was  considerably  more  favourable  to  the 
methodical  penetration  of  conduct  with  religion__than 
the  traditionalistic  faith  of  the  orthodox  Lutheran, 
bound  as  it  was  to  the  Word  and  the  sacraments.  On 
the  whole  Pietism  from  Francke  and  Spener  to  Zinzen- 
dorf  tended  toward  increasing  emphasis  on  the 
emotional  side.  But  this  was  not  in  any  sense  the 
expression  of  an  immanent  law  of  development.  The 
differences  resulted  from  differences  of  the  religious 
(and  social)  environments  from  which  the  leaders 
came.  We  cannot  enter  into  that  here,  nor  can  we 
discuss  how  the  peculiarities  of  German  Pietism  have 
affected  its  social  and  geographical  extension  .^^^  We 
must  again  remind  ourselves  that  this  emotional 
Pietism  of  course  shades  off  into  the  way  of  life  of 
the  Puritan  elect  by  quite  gradual  stages.  If  we  can,  at 



The  Religions  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

least  provisionally,  point  out  any  practical  consequence 
of  the  difference,  we  may  say  that  the  virtues  favoured 
by  Pietism  were  more  those  on  the  one  hand  of  the 
I*  faithful  official,  clerk,  labourer,  or  domestic  worker.^^i 
and  on  the  other  of  the  predominantly  patriarchal 
employer  with  a  pious  condescension  (in  Zinzendorf 's 
manner).  Calvinism,  in  comparison,  appears  to  be  more 

I  closely  related  to  the  hard  legalism  and  the  active 
;^  enterprise  of  bourgeois-capitalistic  entrepreneurs. ^^^ 
finally,  the  purely  emotional  form  of  Pietism  is,  as 
Ritschl  1^^  has  pointed  out,  a  religious  dilettantism  for 
the  leisure  classes.  However  far  this  characterization 
falls  short  of  being  exhaustive,  it  helps  to  explain  certain 
differences  in  the  character  (including  the  economic 
character)  of  peoples  which  have  been  under  the 
influence  of  one  or  the  other  of  these  two  ascetic 

C.  IVIethodism 

The  combination  of  an  emotional  'but  still  ascetic 
type  of  religion  with  increasing  indifference  to  or 
repudiation  of  the  dogmatic  basis  of  Calvinistic 
asceticism  is  characteristic  also  of  the  Anglo-American 
movement  corresponding  to  Continental  Pietism, 
namely  Methodism. ^^^  The  name  in  itself  shows  what 
impressed  contemporaries  as  characteristic  of  its  ad- 
herents :  the  methodical,  systematic  nature  of  conduct 
for  the  purpose  of  attaining  the  certitudo  salutis.  This 
was  from  the  beginning  the  centre  of  religious  aspiration 
for  this  movement  also,  and  remamed  so.  In  spite  of 
all    the    differences,    the    undoubted    relationship    to 


The    Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

certain  branches  of  German  Pietism^^^  is  shown  above 
all  by  the  fact  that  the  method  was  used  primarily  to 
bring  about  the  emotional  act  of  conversion.  And  the 
emphasis  on  feeling,  in  John  Wesley  awakened  by 
Moravian  and  Lutheran  influences,  led  Methodism, 
which  from  the  beginning  saw  its  mission  among  the 
masses,  to  take  on  a  strongly  emotional  character, 
especially  in  America.  The  attainment  of  repentance 
under  certain  circumstances  involved  an  emotional 
struggle  of  such  intensity  as  to  lead  to  the  most  terrible 
ecstasies,  which  in  America  often  took  place  in  a  public 
meeting.  This  formed  the  basis  of  a  belief  in  the 
undeserved  possession  of  divine  grace  and  at  the  same 
time  of  an  immediate  consciousness  of  justification  and 

Now  this  emotional  religion  entered  into  a  peculiar 
alliance,  containing  no  small  inherent  difficulties,  with 
the  ascetic  ethics  which  had  for  good  and  all  been 
stamped  with  rationality  by  Puritanism.  For  one  thing, 
unlike  Calvinism,  which  held  everything  emotional 
to  be  illusory,  the  only  sure  basis  for  the  certitude 
salutis  was  in  principle  held  to  be  a  pure  feeling  of 
absolute  certainty  of  forgiveness,  derived  immediately 
from  the  testimony  of  the  spirit,  the  coming  of  which 
could  be  definitely  placed  to  the  hour.  Added  to  this 
is  Wesley's  doctrine  of  sanctification  which,  though  a 
decided  departure  from  the  orthodox  doctrine,  is  a 
logical  development  of  it.  According  to  it,  one  reborn 
in  this  manner  can,  by  virtue  of  the  divine  grace 
already  working  in  him,  even  in  this  life  attain  sanctifi- 
cation, the  consciousness  of  perfection  in  the  sense  of 
freedom  from  sin,  by  a  second,  generally  separate  and 



The  Religious  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

often  sudden  spiritual  transformation.  However  difficult 
of  attainment  this  end  is,  generally  not  till  toward  the 
end  of  one's  life,  it  must  inevitably  be  sought,  because 
it  finally  guarantees  the  certitudo  salutis  and  substitutes 
a  serene  confidence  for  the  sullen  worry  of  the  Calvin- 
ist .^^®  And  it  distinguishes  the  true  convert  in  his  own 
eyes  and  those  of  others  by  the  fact  that  sin  at  least  no 
longer  has  power  over  him. 

In  spite  of  the  great  significance  of  self-evident  feeling, 
righteous  conduct  according  to  the  law  was  thus  natur- 
ally also  adhered  to.  Whenever  Wesley  attacked  the 
emphasis  on  works  of  his  time,  it  was  only  to  revive  the 
old  Puritan  doctrine  that  works  are  not  the  cause, 
but  only  the  means  of  knowing  one's  st'  *f  of  grace, 
and  even  this  only  when  they  are  performed  Jiely  for 
the  glory  of  God.  Righteous  conduct  alone  did  not 
suffice,  as  he  had  found  out  for  himself.  The  feeling  of 
grace  was  necessary  in  addition.  He  himself  sometimes 
described  works  as  a  condition  of  grace,  and  in  the 
Declaration  of  August  9,  1771,^^'  he  emphasized  that 
he  who  performed  no  good  works  was  not  a  true 
believer.  In  fact,  the  Methodists  have  always  main- 
tained that  they  did  not  differ  from  the  Established 
Church  in  doctrine,  but  only  in  religious  practice.  This 
emphasis  on  the  fruits  of  belief  was  mostly  justified  by 
J  John  iii,  9;  conduct  is  taken  as  a  clear  sign  of  rebirth. 

But  in  spite  of  all  that  there  were  difficulties.^^  For 
those  Methodists  who  were  adherents  of  the  doctrine 
of  predestination,  to  think  of  the  certitudo  salutis  as 
appearing  in  the  immediate  feeling  ^^^  of  grace  and 
perfection  instead  of  the  consciousness  of  grace  which 
grew  out  of  ascetic  conduct  in  continual  proof  of  faith — 


TJie   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of   Capitalism 

since  then  the  certainty  of  the  perservantia  depended 
only  on  the  single  act  of  repentance — meant  one  of  two 
things.  For  weak  natures  there  was  a  fatalistic  inter- 
pretation of  Christian  freedom,  and  with  it  the  break- 
down of  methodical  conduct;  or,  where  this  path  was 
rejected,  the  self-confidence  of  the  righteous  man^^^ 
reached  untold  heights,  an  emotional  intensification  of 
the  Puritan  type.  In  the  face  of  the  attacks  of  opponents, 
the  attempt  was  made  to  meet  these  consequences.  On 
the  one  hand  by  increased  emphasis  on  the  normative 
authority  of  the  Bible  and  the  indispensability  of 
proof  ^^^;  on  the  other  by,  in  effect,  strengthening 
Wesley's  anti-Calvin istic  faction  within  the  movement 
with  its  doctrine  that  grace  could  be  lost.  The  strong 
Lutheran  influences  to  which  Wesley  was  exposed^^^ 
through  the  Moravians  strengthened  this  tendency  and 
increased  the  uncertainty  of  the  religious  basis  of  the 
Methodist  ethics .^^^  In  the  end  only  the  concept  of 
regeneration,  an  emotional  certainty  of  salvation  as  the 
immediate  result  of  faith,  was  definitely  maintained  as 
the  indispensable  foundation  of  grace;  and  with  it 
sanctification,  resulting  in  (at  least  virtual)  freedom 
from  the  power  of  sin,  as  the  consequent  proof  of  grace. 
The  significance  of  external  means  of  grace,  especially 
the  sacraments,  was  correspondingly  diminished.  In 
any  case,  the  general  awakening  which  followed 
Methodism  everywhere>  for  example  in  New  England, 
meant  a  victory  for  the  doctrine  of  grace  and  election. ^^* 
Thus  from  our  view-point  the  Methodist  ethic  appears 
to  rest  on  a  foundation  of  uncertainty  similar  to  Pietism. 
But  the  aspiration  to  the  higher  life,  the  second  blessed- 
ness, served  it  as  a  sort  of  makeshift  for  the  doctrine 

The  Religions  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

of  predestination.  Moreover,  being  English  in  origin, 
its  ethical  practice  was  closely  related  to  that  of  English 
Puritanism,  the  revival  of  which  it  aspired  to  be. 

The  emotional  act  of  conversion  was  methodically 
induced.  And  after  it  was  attained  there  did  not  follow 
a  pious  enjoyment  of  community  with  God,  after  the 
manner  of  the  emotional  Pietism  'of  Zinzendorf,  but 
the  emotion,  once  awakened,  was  directed  into  a 
rational  struggle  for  perfection.  Hence  the  emotional 
character  of  its  faith  did  not  lead  to  a  spiritualized 
religion  of  feeling  like  German  Pietism.  It  has  already 
been. shown  by  Schneckenburger  that  this  fact  was 
connected  with  the  less  intensive  development  of  the 
sense  of  sin  (partly  directly  on  account  of  the  emotional 
experience  of  conversion),  and  this  has  remained  an 
accepted  point  in  the  discussion  of  Methodism.  The 
fundamentally  Calvinistic  character  of  its  religious 
feeling  here  remained  decisive.  The  emotional  excite- 
ment took  the  form  of  enthusiasm  which  was  only 
occasionally,  but  then  powerfully  stirred,  but  which 
by  no  means  destroyed  the  otherwise  rational  character 
of  conduct  .^^^  The  regeneration  of  Methodism  thus 
created  only  a  supplement  to  the  pure  ^ctrine  of 
works,  a  religious  basis  for  ascetic  conduct  after  the 
doctrine  of  predestination  had  been  given  up.  The 
signs  given  by  conduct  which  formed  an  indispensable 
means  of  ascertaining  true  conversion,  even  its  con- 
dition as  Wesley  occasionally  says,  were  in  fact  just  the 
same  as  those  of  Calvinism.  As  a  late  product  ^^^  we 
can,  in  the  following  discussion,  generally  neglect 
Methodism,  as  it  added  nothing  new  to  the  develop- 
ment ^^'  of  the  idea  of  calling. 


The   Protestant    Ethic   and    the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

D.  The  Baptist  Sects 

The  Pietism  of  the  Continent  of  Europe  and  the 
Methodism  of  the  Anglo-Saxon  peoples  are,  considered 
both  in  their  content  of  ideas  and  their  historical 
significance, .  secondary  movements.^®^  On  the  other 
hand,  we  find  a  second  independent  source  of  Protest- 
ant asceticism  besides  Calvinism  in  the  Baptist  move- 
ment and  the  sects  ^^^  which,  in  the  course  of  the 
sixteenth  and  seventeenth  centuries,  came  directly 
from  it  or  adopted  its  forms  of  religious  thought,  the 
Baptists,  Mennonites,  and,  above  all,  the  Quakers.^ '^ 
With  them  we  approach  religious  groups  whose  ethics 
rest  upon_a_basis  differing  inprinciple  from  theCal- 
vinistic  doctrine.  The  followIng~^etch, "which  only 
emphasizes  what  is  important  for  us,  can  give  no  true 
impression  of  the  diversity  of  this  movement.  Again 
we  lay  the  principal  emphasis  on  the  development  in 
the  older  capitalistic  countries. 

The  feature  of  all  these  communities,  which  is  both 
historically  and  in  principle  most  important,  but  whose 
influence  on  the  development  of  culture  can  only  be 
made  quite  clear  in  a  somewhat  different  connection,  is 
something  with  which  we  are  already  familiar,  the 
believer's  Church  .^^^  This  means  that  the  religious 
community,  the  visible  Church  in  the  language  of  the 
Reformation  Churches  ,^'2  was  no  longer  looked  upon 
as  a  sort  of  trust  foundation  for  supernatural  ends,  an 
institution,  necessarily  including  both  the  just  and  the 
unjust,  whether  for  increasing  the  glory  of  God 
(Calvinistic)  or  as  a  mediurh  for  bringing  the  means 
of  salvation  to  men  (Catholic  and  Lutheran),  but 


The  Religious  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

solely  as  a  communityof  personal  believers  of  the 
.Vrbr^rnj  ^pH  onlynRFv^s^  Tn  other  words,  not  as  a 
/Church  but  as  a  sect.^"^  This  is  all  that  the  principle, 
in  itself  purely  external,  that  only  adults  who  have 
personally  gained  their  own  faith  should  be  baptized, 
is  meant  to  symbolize.^'*  The  justification  through 
this  faith  was  for  the  Baptists,  as  they  have  insistently 
repeated  in  all  religious  discussions,  radically  different 
from  the  idea  of  work  in  the  world  in  the  service  of 
Christ,  such  as  dominated  the  orthodox  dogma  of  the 
older  Protestantism.^'^  It  consisted  rather  in  taking 
spiritual  possession  of  His  gift  of  salvation.  But  this 
occurred  through  individual  revelation,  by  the  working 
of  the  Divine  Spirit  in  the  individual,  and  only  in  that 
way.  It  was  offered  to  everyone,  and  it  sufficed  to  wait 
for  the  Spirit,  and  not- to  resist  its  coming  by  a  sinful 
attachment  to  the  world.  The  significance  of  faith  in 
the  sense  of  knowledge  of  the  doctrines  of  the  Church, 
but  also  in  that  of  a  repentant  search  for  divine  grace, 
was  consequently  quite  minimized,  and  there  took 
place,  naturally  with  great  modifications,  a  renais- 
sance of  Early  Christian  pneumatic  doctrines.  For 
instance,  the  sect  to  which  Menno  Simons  in  his 
Fondamentboek  (1539)  gave  the  first  reasonably  con- 
sistent doctrine,  wished,  like  the  other  Baptist  sects, 
to  be  the  true  blameless  Church  of  Christ;  like  the 
apostolic  community,  consisting  entirely  of  those  per- 
sonally awakened  and  called  by  God.  JThose  whohave 
been  born  again,  and  they  alone,  are  brethren  of  Christ. 
.because  they,  like  Him,  have  been  created  in  spirit 
.directlyby  God.^'^  A  strict  avoidance  of  the  world,  in 
the  sense  of  air  not  strictly  necessary  intercourse  with 


The   Protestant   Ethic    and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

worldly  people,  together  with  the  strictest  bibliocracy 
in  the  sense  of  taking  the  life  of  the  first  generations 
of  Christians  as  a  model,  were  the  results  for  the  first 
Baptist  communities,  and  this  principle  of  avoidance  of 
the  world  never  quite  disappeared  so  long  as  the  old 
spirit  remained  alive  .^'^ 

As  a  permanent  possession,  the  Baptist  sects  retained 
from  these  dominating  motives  of  their  early  period  a 
principle  with  which,  on  a  somewhat  different  founda- 
tion, we  have  already  become  acquainted  in  Calvinism, 
and  the  fundamental  importance  of  which  will  again 
and  again  come  out.  They  absolutely  repudiated  all 
idolatryofthejlesh,  as  a  detractionfrom  the  reverence 
due  to  God  alone  .^'®  The  Biblical  way  of  life  was 
conceived  by  the  first  Swiss  and  South  German 
Baptists  with  a  radicalism  similar  to  that  of  the  young 
St.  Francis,  as  a  sharp  break  with  all  the  enjoyment  of 
life,  a  life  modelled  directly  on  that  of  the  Apostles. 
And,  in  truth,  the  life  of  many  of  the  earlier  Baptists 
is  reminiscent  of  that  of  St.  Giles.  But  this  strict 
observation  of  Biblical  precepts^^^  was  not  on  very 
secure  foundations  in  its  connection  with  the  pneu- 
matic character  of  the  faith.  What  God  had  revealed 
to  the  prophets  and  apostles  was  not  all  that  He  could 
and  would  reveal.  On  the  contrary,  the  continued  life 
of  the  Word,  not  as  a  written  document,  but  as  the 
force  of  the  Holy  Spirit  working  in  daily  life,  which 
speaks  directly  to  any  individual  who  is  willing  to  hear, 
was  the  sole  characteristic  of  the  true  Church.  That,  as 
Schwenkfeld  taught  as  against  Luther  and  later  Fox 
a^inst_the_Presbyterians,  was  the  testimony  oF  the 
early  Christian  communities.  From  this  idea  oF^the 

The  Religious  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

continuance  of  revelation  developed  the  well-known 
doctrine,  later  consistently  worked  out  by  the  Quakers, 
of  the  (in  the  last  analysis  decisive)  significance  of  the 
inner  testimony  of  the  Spirit  in  reason  and  conscience. 
I  This  did  away,  not  with  the  authority,  but  with  the 
'  sole  authority,  of  the  Bible,  and  started  a  development 
which  in  the  end  radically  eliminated  all  that  remained 
of  the  doctrine  of  salvation  through  the  Church;  for 
the  Quakers  even  with  Baptism  and  the  Communion  .^®^ 
The  Baptist  denominations  along  with  the  pre- 
destinationists,  especially  the  strict  Calvinists,  carried 
out  the  most  radical  devaluation  of  all  sacraments  as 
means  to  salvation,  and  thus  accomplished  the  religious 
rationalization  of  the  world  in  its  most  extreme  form. 
Only  the  inner  light  of  continual  reyelafion  could 
enable  one  truly  to  Understand__even  the  _jBiblical 
revelations  of  God.^®^  On  the  other  hand,  at  least 
according  to  the  Quaker  doctrine  which  here  drew  the 
logical  conclusion,  its  effects  could  be  extended  to 
people  who  had  never  known  revelation  in  its  Biblical 
form.  The  proposition  extra  ecclesiam  nulla  salus  held 
only  for  this  /«visible  Church  of  those  illuminated  by 
the  Spirit.  Without  the  inner  light,  the  natural  man, 
even  the  man  guided  by  natural  reason, ^^^  remained 
purely  a  creature  of  the  flesh,  whose  godlessness  was 
condemned  by  the  Baptists,  including  the  Quakers, 
almost  even  more  harshly  than  by  the  Calvinists.  On 
the  other  hand,  the  new  birth  caused  by  the  Spirit,  if 
we  wait  for  it  and  open  our  hearts  to  it,  may,  since  it  is 
divinely  caused,  lead  to  a  state  of  such  complete 
conquest  of  the  power  of  sin,^^^  that  relapses,  to  say 
nothing  of  the   loss  of  the   state   of  grace,   become 


The    Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of   Capitalism 

practically  impossible.  However,  as  in  Methodism  at 
a   later  time,   the  attainment  of  that  state  was  not 
thought  of  as  the  rule,  but  rather  the  degree  of  perfec- 
tion of  the  individual  was  subject  to  development. 
But   all   Baptist   communities   desired   to   be   pure 
^.  Churches  in  the  sense  of  the  blameless  conduct  of  their 
members.  A  sincere  repudiation  of  the  world  and  its 
interests,   and   unconditional   submission   to   God   as 
speaking  through  the  conscience,  were  the  only  un- 
challengeable signs  of  true  rebirth,  and  a  corresponding 
type  of  conduct  was  thus  indispensable  to  salvation. 
And  hence  the  gift  of  God's  grace  could  not  be  earned, 
i   but  only  one  who  followed  the  dictates  of  his  conscience 
1  could  be  justified  in  considering  himself  reborn.  Good 
1  works  in  this  sense  were  a  causa  sine  qua  non.  As  we 
s^e,  this  last  reasoning  of  Barclay,  to  whose  exposition 
-'  \^e  have  adhered,  was  again  the  equivalent  in  practice 
cjf  the  Calvinistic  doctrine,  and  was  certainly  developed 
linder    the    influence    of   the    Calvinistic    asceticism, 
which  surrounded  the  Baptist  sects  in  Englandand  the 
Netherlands.  George  Fox  devoted  the  whole  of  his 
early  missionary  activity  to  the  preaching  of  its  earnest 
and  sincere  adoption. 

^ut \sinc£^Bredestination  wasjrejected ,  the  peculiarly 
Tational  character  of  Baptist  morality  rested  psycho- 
logically above  all  on  the  idea  of  expectant  waiting  for 
the  Spirit  to  descend,  which  even  to-day  is  character- 
istic of  the  Quaker  meeting,  and  is  well  analysed  by 
Barclay,  ^he  purpose  of  this  silent  waiting  is  to  over- 
come everything  impulsive  and  irrational,  the  passions 
and  subjective  interests  of  the  natural  man.  He  must 
be  stilled  in  order  to  create  that  deep  repose  of  the 

The  Religious  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

soul  in  which  alone  the  word  of  God  can  be  heard. 
Of  course,  this  waiting  might  result  in  hysterical  con- 
ditions, prophecy,  and,  as  long  as  eschato logical  hopes 
survived,  under  certain  circumstances  even  in  an 
outbreak  of  chiliastic  enthusiasm,  as  is  possible  in  all 
similar  types  of  religion.  That  actually  happened  in  the 
movement  which  went  to  pieces  in  Münster. 

But  in  so  far  as  Baptism  affected  the  normal  worka- 
day world,  the  idea  that  God  only  speaks  when  the 
flesh  is  silent  evidently  meant  an  incentive  to  the 
deliberate  weighing  of  courses  of  action  and  their 
careful  justification  in  terms  of  the  individual  con- 
science.^^* The  later  Baptist  communities,  most  par- 
ticularly the  Quakers,  adopted  this  quiet,  moderate, 
eminently  conscientious  character  of  conduct.  The 
radical  elimination  of  magic  from  the  world  allowed 
no  other  psychological  course  than  the  practice  of 
worldly  asceticism.  Since  these  communities  would 
Kave  nothing  to  do  with  the  political  powers  and  their 
doings,  the  external  result  also  was  the  penetration  of 
life  in  the  calling  with  these  ascetic  virtues.  The  leaders 
of  the  earliest  Baptist  movement  were  ruthlessly 
radical  in  their  rejection  of  worldliness.  But  naturally, 
even  in  the  first  generation,  the  strictly  apostolic  way 
of  life  was  not  maintained  as  absolutely  essential  to 
the  proof  of  rebirth  for  everyone.  Well-to-do  bourgeois 
there  were,  even  in  this  generation  and  even  before 
Menno,  who  definitely  defended  the  practical  worldly 
virtues  and  the  system  of  private  property;  the  strict 
morality  of  the  Baptists  had  turned  in  practice  into 
the  path  prepared  by  the  Calvinistic  ethic .^^^  This  was 
simply  because  the  road  to  the  otherworldly  monastic 


The   Protestant   Ethic    and   the    Spirit   of   Capitalism 

form  of  asceticism  had  been  closed  as  unbiblical  and 
savouring  of  salvation  by  works  since  Luther,  whom, 
the  Baptists  also  followed  in  this  respect.  1 

Nevertheless,  apart  from  the  half-communistic  com- 
munities of  the  early  period,  one  Baptist  sect,  the  so- 
called  Dunckards  (Tunker,  dompelaers)^  has  to  this  day 
maintained  its  condemnation  of  education  and  of  eveiy 
form  of  possession  beyond  that  indispensable  to  life. 
And  even  Barclay  looks  upon  the  obligation  to  one's 
calling  not  in  Calvinistic  or  even  Lutheran  terms,  but 
rather  Thomistically,  as  naturali  ratione,  the  necessary 
consequence  of  the  believers  having  to  live  in  the 
world. ^^^ 

This  attitude  meant  a  weakening  of  the  Calvinistic 
conception  of  the  calling  similar  to  those  of  Spener  and 
the  German  Pietists.  But,  on  the  other  hand,  the 
intensity  of  interest  in  economic  occupations  was 
considerably  increased  by  various  factors  at  work  in 
the  Baptist  sects.  In  the  first  place,  by  the  refusal  to 
accept  office  in  the  service  of  the  State,  which  origin- 
ated as  a  religious  duty  following  from  the  repudiation 
of  everything  worldly.  After  its  abandonment  in 
principle  it  still  remained,  at  least  for  the  Mennonites 
and  Quakers,  effective  in  practice,  because  the  strict 
refusal  to  bear  arms  or  to  take  oaths  formed  a  sufficient 
disqualification  for  office.  Hand  in  hand  with  it  in  all 
Baptists'  denominations  went  an  invincible  antagonism 
to  any  sort  of  aristocratic  way  of  life.  Partly,  as  with 
the  Calvinists,  it  was  a  consequence  of  the  prohibition 
of  all  idolatry  of  the  flesh,  partly  a  result  of  the  afore- 
mentioned unpolitical  or  even  anti-political  principles. 
The  whole  shrewd   and    conscientious  rationality   of 


The  Religious  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

Baptist   conduct  was   thus   forced   into   non-political 

A^t  the  same  time,  the  immense  importance  which  was 
attributed  by  the  Baptist  doctrine  of  salvation^  to  the 
role  of  the  ronsrience  as  the  revelation  oj^Qodi^  the 
individual  gave  their  conduct  in  worldly  callings  a 
Character  which  was  of  the  greatest  significance  for  the 
development  of  the  spirit  of  capitalism.  We  shall  have 
to  postpone  its  consideration  until  later,  and  it  can  then 
be  studied  only  in  so  far  as  this  is  possible  without 
entering  into  the  whole  political  and  social  ethics  of 
Protestant  asceticism.  But,  to  anticipate  this  much,  we 
have  already  called  attention  to  that  most  important 
principle  of  the  capitalistic  ethic  which  is  generally 
formulated  *' honesty  is  the_best  policy ".^^'  Its  classical 
document  is  the  tract  of  Franklin  quoted  above.  And 
even  in  the  judgment  of  the  seventeenth  century  the 
specific  form  of  the  worldly  asceticism  of  the  Baptists, 
especially  the  Quakers,  lay  in  the  practical  adoption  of 
this  maxim .^^  On  the  other  hand,  we  shall  expect  to 
find  that  the  influence  of  Calvinisnrwn5~exened  more 
in  the  direction  of  the  liberation  of  energy  for  private 
acquisition.  For  in  spiteof  all  the  tormanegä!ismrüf~~ 
the  elect,  Goethe's  remark  in  fact  applied  often  enough 
to  the  Calvinist:  ''The  man  of  action  is  always  ruthless; 
no  one  has  a  conscience  but  an  observer."^^® 

A  further  important  element  which  promoted  the 
intensity  of  the  worldly  asceticism  of  the  Baptist 
denominations  can  in  its  full  significance  also  be 
considered  only  in  another  connection.  Nevertheless,  . 
we  may  anticipate  a  few  remarks  on  it  to  justify  the 
order  of  presentation  we  have  chosen.  We  have  quite 


The   Protestant   Ethic    and    the    Spirit    of   Capitalism 

deliberately  not  taken  as  a  starting-point  the  objective 
social  institutions  of  the  older  Protestant  Churches, 
and  their  ethical  influences,  especially  not  the  very 
important  Church  discipline.  We  have  preferred  rather 
to  take  the  results  which  subjective  adoption  of  an 
ascetic  faith  might  have  had  in  the  conduct  of  the 
individual.  This  was  not  only  because  this  side  of  the 
thing  has  previously  received  far  less  attention  than 
the  other,  but  also  because  the  effect  of  Church  disci- 
pline was  by  no  means  always  a  similar  one.  On  the 
contrary,  the  ecclesiastical  supervision  of  the  life  of  the 
individual,  which,  as  it  was  practised  in  thie  Calvinistic 
State  Churches,  almost  amounted  to  an  inquisition, 
might  even  retard  that  liberation  of  individual  powers 
which  was  conditioned  by  the  rational  ascetic  pursuit  of 
salvation,  and  in  some  cases  actually  did  so. 

The  mercantilistic  regulations  of  the  State  might 
develop  industries,  but  not,  or  certainly  not  alone,  the 
spirit  of  capitalism;  where  they  assumed  a  despotic, 
authoritarian  character,  they  to  a  large  extent  directly 
hindered  it.  Thus  a  similar  eff"ect  might  well  have 
resulted  from  ecclesiastical  regimentation  when  it 
became  excessively  despotic.  It  enforced  a  particular 
type  of  external  conformity,  but  in  some  cases  weakened 
the  subjective  motives  of  rational  conduct.  Any  dis- 
cussion of  this  point^^^  must  take  account  of  the  great 
difference  between  the  results  of  the  authoritarian 
moral  discipline  of  the  Established  Churches  and  the 
corresponding  discipline  in  the  sects  which  rested  on 
voluntary  submission.  That  the  Baptist  movement 
everywhere  and  in  principle  founded  sects  and  not 
Churches  was  certainly  as  favourable  to  the  intensity 

The  Religious  Foundations  of  Worldly  Asceticism 

of  their  asceticism  as  was  the  case,  to  differing  degrees, 
with  those  Calvinistic,  Methodist,  and  Pietist  com- 
munities which  were  driven  by  their  situations  into  the 
formation  of  voluntary  groups. ^^^ 

It  is  our  next  task  to  follow  out  the  results  of  the 
Puritan  Idea  of  the  calling  in  the  business  world,  now 
that  the  above  sketch  has  attempted  to  show  its  religious 
foundations.  With  all  the  differences  of  detail  and 

emphasis  which  these  different  ascetic  movements 
show  in  the  aspects  with  which  we  have  been  concerned, 
much  the  same  characteristics  are  present  and  impor- 
tant in  all  of  them.^^2  But  for  our  purposes  the  decisive 
point  jw^^to  recapitulate,  the  conception  of  the  state 
Q£xeligiQus_grace,  common  to  all  the  denominations,  as 
a  status  which  marks  off  its  possessor  from  the  degrada- 

tionji£lhe_flesh,Jrom  the  worM.l-^ 

On  the  other  hand,  though  the  means  by  which  it 
was  attained  differed  for  different  doctrines,  it  could  ~ 
not  be  guaranteed  by  any  magical  sacraments,  by  relief  / 
in  the  confession,  nor  by  individual  good  works .^That 
was  only  possible  by  proof  in  a  specific  type  of  conduct 
unmistakably  different  from  the  way  of  life  of  the 
natural  man.  FronL-thajLJollQwed^for  the  individual 
an  incentive  methodically  to  supervise  his  own  s^e 
of^grace  in  his  own  conductTandT  thus  IfTpenetratfi-it 
with  asceticism.  But,  as  we  have  seen,  this  ascetic 
conduct  meant  a  rational  planning  of  the  whole  of  one's 
life  in  accordance  with  God's  will.  And  this  asceticism 
was  no  longer  an  opus  supererogationis ,  but  something 
which  could  be  required  of  everyone  who  would  be 
certain  of  salvation.  The  religious  life  of  the  saints,  as 
distinguished    from    the    natural  life,  was — the    most 

M  153 

The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

important  point — no  longer  lived  outside  the  world  in 
monastic  communities,  but  within  the  world  and  its 
institutions.  This  rationalization  of  conduct  within 
this  world,  but  for  the  sake  of  the  world  beyond,  was 
the  consequence  of  the  concept  of  calling  of  ascetic 
Protestantism, ,.  ' 

iristian  asceticism,  at  first  fleeing  from  the  world 
into  solitude,  had  already  ruled  the.  world  which  it  had 
renounced  from  the  monastery  and  through  the 
Church.  But  it  had,  on  the  whole,  left  the  naturally 
spontaneous  character  of  daily  life  in  the  world  un- 
touched. Now  it  strode  into  the  market-place  of  life, 
slammed  the  door  of  the  monastery  behind  it,  and 
undertook  to  penetrate  just  that  daily  routine  of  life 
with  its  methodicalness,  to  fashion  it  into  a  life  in  the 
world,  but  neither  of  nor  for  this  world.  With  what 
result,  we  shall  try  to  make  clear  in  the  following 




In  order  to  understand  the  connection  between  the 
fundamental  religious  ideas  of  ascetic  Protestantism 
and  its  maxims  for  everyday  economic  conduct,  it  is 
necessary  to  examine  with  especial  care  such  writings 
as  have  evidently  been  derived  from  ministerial  prac- 
tice. For  in  a  time  in  which  the  beyond  meant  every- 
thing, when  the  social  position  of  the  Christian 
depended  upon  his  admission  to  the  communion,  the 
clergyman,  through  his  ministry.  Church  discipline, 
and  preaching,  exercised  an  influence  (as  a  glance  at 
collections  of  consilia,  casus  conscientice,  etc.,  shows) 
which  we  modern  men  are  entirely  unable  to  picture. 
In  such  a  time  the  religious  forces  which  express 
themselves  through  such  channels  are  the  decisive 
influences  in  the  formation  of  national  character. 

For  the  purposes  of  this  chapter,  though  by  no 
means  for  all  purposes,  we  can  treat  ascetic  Protestant- 
ism as  a  single  whole.  But  since  that  side  of  English 
Puritanism  which  was  derived  from  Calvinism  gives 
the  most  consistent  religious  basis  for  the  idea  of  the 
calling,  we  shall,  following  our  previous  method, 
place  one  of  its  representatives  at  the  centre  of  the 
discussion.  Richard  Baxter  stands  out  above  many 
other  writers  on  Puritan  ethics,  both  because  of  his 
eminently  practical  and  realistic  attitude,  and,  at  the 
same  time,  because  of  the  universal  recognition 
accorded  to  his  works,  which  have  gone  through  many 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of   Capitalism 

new  editions  and  translations.  He  was  a  Presbyterian 
and  an  apologist  of  the  Westminster  Synod,  but  at  the 
same  time,  like  so  many  of  the  best  spirits  of  his  time, 
gradually  grew  away  from  the  dogmas  of  pure  Calvin- 
ism. At  heart  he  opposed  Cromwell's  usurpation  as  he 
would  any  revolution.  He  was  unfavourable  to  the 
sects  and  the  fanatical  enthusiasm  of  the  saints, 
but  was  very  broad-minded  about  external  peculiarities 
and  objective  towards  his  opponents.  He  sought  his 
field  of  labour  most  especially  in  the  practical  promo- 
tion of  the  moral  life  through  the  Church.  In  the 
pursuit  of  this  end,  as  one  of  the  most  successful 
ministers  known  to  history,  he  placed  his  services  at 
the  disposal  of  the  Parliamentary  Government,  of 
Cromwell,  and  of  the  Restoration,^  until  he  retired 
from  office  under  the  last,  before  St.  Bartholomew's 
day.  His  Christian  Directory  is  the  most  complete 
compendium  of  Puritan  ethics,  and  is  continually 
adjusted  to  the  practical  experiences  of  his  own  minis- 
terial activity.  In  comparison  we  shall  make  use  of 
Spener's  Theologische  Bedenken^  as  representative  of 
German  Pietism,  Barclay's  Apology  for  the  Quakers, 
and  some  other  representatives  of  ascetic  ethics,^ 
which,  however,  in  the  interest  of  space,  will  be 
limited  as  far  as  possible.^ 

Now,  in  glancing  at  Baxter's  Saints^  Everlasting  Rest, 
or  his  Christian  Directory^  or  similar  works  of  others,* 
one  is  struck  at  first  glance  by  the  emphasis  placed,  in 
the  discussion  of  wealth^  and  its  acquisition,  on  the 
ebionitic  elements  of  the  New  Testament.^  Wealth 
as  such  is  a  great  danger;  its  temptations  never  end, 
and  its  pursuit'^  is  not  only  senseless  as  compared  with 


Asceticism  and  the  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

the  dominating  importance  of  the  Kingdom  of  God, 
but  it  is  morally  suspect.  Here  asceticism  seems  to  have 
turned  much  more  sharply  against  the  acquisition  of 
earthly  goods  than  it  did  in  Calvin,  who  saw  no  hin- 
drance to  the  effectiveness  of  the  clergy  in  their  wealth, 
but  rather  a  thoroughly  desirable  enhancement  of  their 
prestige.  Hence  he  permitted  them  to  employ  their 
means  profitably.  Examples  of  the  condemnation  ^f 
the  pursuit  of  money  and  goods  may  be  gathered 
without  end  from  Puritan  writings,  and  may  be 
contrasted  with  the  late  mediaeval  ethical  literature, 
which  was  much  more  open-minded  on  this  point. 

Moreover,  these  doubts  were  meant  with  perfect 
seriousness;  only  it  is  necessary  to  examine  them 
somewhat  more  closely  in  order  to  understand  their 
true  ethical  significance  and  implications.  The  real 
moral  objection  is  ^o_rela3^tipn  in  the  security  of 
possession,^  the  enjoyment  of  wealth  with  the  conse- 
quence of  idleness  and  the  temptations  of  the  flesh, 
above  all  of  distraction  from  the  pursuit  of  a  righteous 
life.  Iß  fact,  itjs_only  because  possession_invq]yes_this 
danger  of  relaxation  that  it  is  objectionable  at  all.  For 
the  Saints'  everlasting  rest  is  in  the  next  world;  on 
earth  man  must,  to  be  certain  of  his  state  of  grace, 
"do  the  works  of  him  who  sent  him,  as  long  as  it  is 
yet  day".  NaL leisure  and  enjoyment^  but  only  activity 
serves  to  increase  the  glory  of  God,  according  to  the 
definite  manifestations  of  His  will.^  y 

Wi\^te,  nf  time  is  thus  tji^  first  and  in  principle  the  A 
deadliest  of  sins.  The  span  of  human  life  is  infinitely 
short  and  precious  to  make  sure  of  one's  own  election. 
Loss  of  time  through  sociability,  idle  talk,^"  luxur^^^^ 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

even  more  sleep  than  is  necessary  for  health,^^  six  to  at 
most  eight  hours,  is  worthy  of  absolute  moral  con- 
demnation .^^  It  does  not  yet  hold,  with  Franklin,  that 
time  is  money,  but  the  proposition  is  true  in  a  certain 
spiritual  sense.  It  is  infinitely  valuable  because  every 
y  hour  lost  is  lost  to  labour  for  the  glory  of  God.^* 
Thus  inactive  contemplation  is  also  valueless,  or  even 
directly  reprehensible  if  it  is  at  the  expense  of  one's 
daily  work.^^  For  it  is  less  pleasing  to  God  than  the 
active  performance  of  His  will  in  a  calling .^^  Besides, 
Sunday  is  provided  for  that,  and,  according  to  Baxter, 
it  is  always  those  who  are  not  diligent  in  their  callings  who 
have  no  time  for  God  when  the  occasion  demands  it.^'^ 
Accordingly,  Baxter's  principal  work  is  dominated 
yby  the  continually  repeated,  often  almost  passionate 
^  preaching  of  hard,  continuous  bodily  or  mental  labour. ^^ 
[t  is  due  to  a  combination  of  two  different  motives  .^^ 
'Labour  is,  on  the  one  hand,  an  approved  ascetic 
technique,  as  it  always  has  been^^  in  the  Western 
Church,  in  sharp  contrast  not  only  to  the  Orient  but 
to  almost  all  monastic  rules  the  world  over.^^  It  is  in 
particular  the  specific  defence  against  all  those  tempta- 
tions which  Puritanism  united  under  the  name  of  the 
unclean  life,  whose  role  for  it  was  by  no  means  small. 
The  sexual  asceticism  of  Puritanism  differs  only  in 
degree,  not  in  fundamental  principle,  from  that  of 
monasticism ;  and  on  account  of  the  Puritan  conception 
of  marriage,  its  practical  influence  is  more  far-reaching 
than  that  of  the  latter.  For  sexual  intercourse  is  per- 
mitted, even  within  marriage,  only  as  the  means  willed 
by  God  for  the  increase  of  His  glory  according  to  the 
commandment,  "Be  fruitful  and  multiply."  ^^  Along 


Asceticism  and  the  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

with  a  moderate  vegetable  diet  and  cold  baths,  the 
same  prescription  is  given  for  all  sexual  temptations  as 
is  used  against  religious  doubts  and  a  sense  of  moral 
unworthiness :  "Work  hard  in  your  calling."  ^3  But 
the  most  important  thing  was  that  even  beyond  that 
labour  came  to  be  considered  in  itself  ^^  the  end  of  life, 
ordained  as  such  by  God.  St.  Paul's  "He  who  will  not 
work  shall  not  eat"  holds  unconditionally  for  every- 
one .^^  Unwillingness  to  work  is  symptomatic  of  the 
lack  of  grace  .^^ 

Here  the  difference  from  the  mediaeval  view-point 
becomes  quite  evident.  Thomas  Aquinas  also  gave  an 
interpretation  of  that  statement  of  St.  Paul.  But  for 
him^'  labour  is  only  necessary  naturali  ratione  for  the 
maintenance  of  individual  and  community.  Where  this 
end  is  achieved,  the  precept  ceases  to  have  any  meaning.. 
Moreover,  it  holds  only  for  the  race,  not  for  every 
individual.  It  does  not  apply  to  anyone  who  can  live 
without  labour  on  his  possessions,  and  of  course 
contemplation,  as  a  spiritual  form  of  action  in  the 
Kingdom  of  God,  takes  precedence  over  the  command- 
ment in  its  literal  sense.  Moreover,  for  the  popular 
theology  of  the  time,  the  highest  form  of  monastic 
productivity  lay  in  the  increase  of  the  Thesaurus 
ecclesice  through  prayer  and  chant. 

Now  only  do  these  exceptions  to  the  duty  to  labour 
naturally  no  longer  hold  for  Baxter,  but  he  holds  most 
emphatically  that  wealth  does  not  exempt  anyone  from 
the  unconditional  command .^^  Even  the  wealthy  shall 
not  eat  without  working,  for  even  though  they  do  not 
need  to  labour  to  support  their  own  needs,  there  is 
God's  commandment  which  they,  like  the  poor,  must 



The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

obey .2®  For  everyone  without  exception  God's  Provi- 
dence has  prepared  a  calHng,  which  he  should  profess 
and  in  which  he  should  labour.  And  this  calling  is  not, 
as  it  was  for  the  Lutheran, ^^  a  fate  to  which  he  must 
submit  and  which  he  must  make  the  best  of,  but  God's 
commandment  to  the  individual  to  work  for  the  divine 
glory.  This  seemingly  subtle  difference  had  far^reacEing 
psychological  consequences,  and  became  connected  with 
a  further  development  of  the  providential  interpretation 
of  the  economic  order  which  had  begun  in  scholasticism. 
The  phenomenon— of  _the_  division  of  jabour  and 
/occupations  in  society  had,  among  others,  been  inter- 
/preted  by  Thomas  Aquinas,  to  whom  we  may  most 
'  conveniently  refer,  as  a  direct  consequence  of  the 
divine  scheme  of  things.  But  the  places  assigned  to 
each  man  in  this  cosmos  follow  ex  causis  naturalibus  and 
are  fortuitous  (contingent  in  the  Scholastic  termin- 
ology). The  differentiation  of  men  into  the  classes  and 
occupations  established  through  historical  development 
became  for  Luther,  as  we  have  seen,  a  direct  result  of 
the  divine  will.  The  perseverance  of  the  individual  in 
the  place  and  within  the  limits  which  God  had  assigned 
to  him  was  a  religious  duty.^^  This  was  the  more 
certainly  the  consequence  since  the  relations  of  Luther- 
anism  to  the  world  were  in  general  uncertain  from  the 
beginning  and  remained  so.  Ethical  principles  for  the 
reform  of  the  world  could  not  be  found  in  Luther's 
realm  of  ideas ;  in  fact  it  never  quite  freed  itself  from 
Pauline  indifference.  Hence  the  world  had  to  be  accepted 
as  it  was,  and  this  alone  could  be  made  a  religious  duty. 
But  Jn_the-Puritan  view,  the  providential  character 
or  the  play  of  private  economic  interests  takes  on  a 
1 60 

Asceticism  and  the  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

somewhat  different  emphasis.  True  to  the  Puritan 
tendency  to  pragmatic  interpretations,  the  providential 
purpos£-Q£-tbe^diyision  of  labour  is  to  be  known  by  its 
fruits.  On  this  point  Baxter  expressesTiimself  in  terms 
which  more  than  once  directly  recall  Adam  Smith's 
well-known  apotheosis  of  the  division  of  labour. ^^ The  ' 
specialization  of  occupations  lead^,  since  it  makes  the 
development  of  skill  possible,  to  a  quantitative  and 
qualitative  improvement  in  production,  and  thus  serves 
the  common  good,  which  is  identical  with  the  good 
of  the  greatest  possible  number.  So  far,  the  motivation  is 
purely  utilitarian,  and  is  closely  related  to  the  customary 
view-point  of  much  of  the  secular  literature  of  the  time.^^ 

But  the  characteristic  Puritan  element  appears  when 
Baxter  sets  at  the  head  of  his  discussion  the  statement 
that  *'outside  of  a  well-marked  calling  the  accomplish- 
ments of  a  man  are  only  casual  and  irregular,  and  he 
spends  more  time  in  idleness  than  at  work",  and  when  he 
concludes  it  as  follows :  "and  he  [the  specialized  worker] 
will  carry  out  his  work  in  order  while  another  remains  in 
constant  confusion,  and  his  business  knows  neither  time 
nor  place  ^*  .  .  .  therefore  is  a  certain  calling  the  best  for 
everyone".  Irregular  work,  which  the  ordinary  labourer  is 
often  forced  to  accept,  is  often  unavoidable,  but  always  an 
unwelcome  state  of  transition.  A  man  without  a  calling 
thus  lacks  the  systematic,  methodical  character  which  is, 
as  we  have  seen,  demanded  by  worldly  asceticism. 

The  Quaker  ethic  also  holds  that  a  man's  life  in  his 
calling  is  an  exercise  in  ascetic  virtue,  a  proof  of  his 
state,  of  grace  through  his  conscientiousness,  which  is 
expressed  in  the  care  ^^  and  method  with  which  he 
pursues  his  calling.  What  God  demands  is  not  labour 

The   Protestant   Ethic   and    the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

in  itself,  but  rational  labour  in  a  calling.  In  the  Puritan 
concept  of  the  calling  the  emphasis  is  always  placed  on 
this  methodical  character  of  worldly  asceticism,  not,  as 
with  Luther,  on  the  acceptance  of  the  lot  which  God 
has  irretrievably  assigned  to  man.^^ 

Hence  the  question  whether  anyone  may  combine 
several  callings  is  answered  in  the  affirmative,  if  it  is 
useful  for  the  common  good  or  one's  own,^'  and  not 
injurious  to  anyone,  and  if  it  does  not  lead  to  un- 
faithfulness in  one  of  the  callings.  Even  a  change  of 
calling  is  by  no  means  regarded  as  objectionable,  if  it 
is  not  thoughtless  and  is  made  for  the  purpose  of 
pursuing  a  calling  more  pleasing  to  God,^^  which 
means,  on  general  principles,  one  more  useful. 

It  is  true  that  the  usefulness  of  a  calling,  and  thus  its 

I  favour  in  the  sight  of  God,  is  measured  primarily  in 

moral  terms,  and  thus  in  terms  of  the  importance  of 

the  goods  produced  in  it  for  the  community.  But  a 

further,  and,  above  all,  in  practice  the  most  important, 

criterion  is  found  in  private  profitableness.^^  For  if 

that  God,  whose  hand  the  Puritan  sees  in  all  the 

occurrences  of  life,  shows  one  of  His  elect  a  chance  of 

profit,  he  must  do  it  with  a  purpose.  Hence  the  faithful 

(christian  must  follow  the  call  by  taking  advantage  of 

Hhe  opportunity.^^  *'If  God  show  you  a  way  in  which 

you  may  lawfully  get  more  than  in  another  way  (without 

wrong  to  your  soul  or  to  any  other),  if  you  refuse  this, 

and  choose  the  less  gainful  way,  you  crass  one  of  the 

ends  of  your  calling,  and  you   refuse  to  be   God's 

steward,  and  to  accept  His  gifts  and  use  them  for  Him 

when  He  requireth  it:  you  may  labour  to  be  rich  for 

God,  though  not  for  the  flesh  and  sin."*^ 


Asceticism  and  the  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

Wealth  is  thus  bad  ethically  only  in  so  far  as  it  is  a 
temptation  to  idleness  and  sinful  enjoyment  of  life^  and 
ita-acquiaition  is  bad  only  when  it  is  with  the  purpose 
of  _lat£L  living  merrily  and  without  care.  But  as  a , 
performance  of  duty  in  a  calling  it  is  not  only  morally ' 
permissible,  but  actually  enjoined. ^^  The  parable  of  the 
servant  who  was  rejected  because  he  did  not  increase 
the  talent  which  was  entrusted  to  him  seemed  to  say 
so  directly.^^  To  wish  to  be  poor  was,  it  was  often 
argued,  the  same  as  wishing  to  be  unhealthy  **;  if  is 
objectionable  as  a  glorification  of  works  and  derogatory 
to  the  glory  of  God.  Especially  begging,  on  the  part  of 
one  able  to  work,  is  not  only  the  sin  of  slothfulness, 
but  a  violation  of  the  duty  of  brotherly  love  according 
to  the  Apostle's  own  wordJL,^^ 

The  emphasis  on  tK^asceti^  importance  of  a  fixed 
calling  provided  an  ethical  justification  of  the  modern 
specialized  division  of  labour.  In  a  similar  way  the 
providential  interpretation  ot  profit-making  justified 
the  activities  of  the  business  man.*^  The  superior  in- 
dulgence of  the  seigneur  and  the  parvenu  ostentation 
of  the  nouveau  riche  are  equally  detestable  to  asceticism. 
But,  on  the  other  hand,  it  has  the  highest  ethical 
appreciation  of  the  sober,  middle-class,  self-made 
man.*'  "God  blesseth  His  trade"  is  a  stock  remark 
about  those  good  men*^  who  had  successfully  followed 
the  divine  hints.  The  whole  power  of  the  God  of  the 
Old  Testament,  who  rewards  His  people  for  their 
obedience  in  this  life,*^  necessarily  exercised  a  similar 
influence  on  the  Puritan  who,  following  Baxter's 
advice,  compared  his  own  state  of  grace  with  that  of 
the  heroes  of  the  Bible,^^  and  in  the  process  interpreted 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

the  statements  of  the  Scriptures  as  the  articles  of  a  book 
of  statutes. 

Of  course,  the  words  of  the  Old  Testament  were  not 
entirely  without  ambiguity.  We  have  seen  that  Luther 
first  used  the  concept  of  the  calling  in  the  secular  sense 
in  translating  a  passage  from  Jesus  Sirach.  But  the 
book  of  Jesus  Sirach  belongs,  with  the  whole  atmo- 
sphere expressed  in  it,  to  those  parts  of  the  broadened 
Old  Testament  with  a  distinctly  traditionalistic  ten- 
dency, in  spite  of  Hellenistic  influences.  It  is  charac- 
teristic that  down  to  the  present  day  this  book  seems 
to  enjoy  a  special  favour  among  Lutheran  German 
peasants, ^^  just  as  the  Lutheran  influence  in  large 
sections  of  German  Pietism  has  been  expressed  by  a 
preference  for  Jesus  Sirach  .^^ 

The  Puritans  repudiated  the  Apocrypha  as  not 
inspired,  consistently  with  their  sharp  distinction 
between  things  divine  and  things  of  the  flesh. ^^  But 
among  the  canonical  books  tliat  of  Job  had  all  the 
more  influence.  On  the  one  hand  it  contained  a  grand 
conception  of  the  absolute  sovereign  majesty  of  God, 
beyond  all  human  comprehension,  which  was  closely 
related  to  that  of  Calvinism.  With  that,  on  the  other 
hand,  it  combined  the  certainty  which,  though  inci- 
dental for  Calvin,  came  to  be  of  great  importance  for 
Puritanism,  that  God  would  bless  His  own  in  this  life — 
in  the  book  of  Job  only — and  also  in  the  material 
sense.^*  The  Oriental  quietism,  which  appears  in  several 
of  the  finest  verses  of  the  Psalms  and  in  the  Proverbs, 
was  interpreted  away,  just  as  Baxter  did  with  the 
traditionalistic  tinge  of  the  passage  in  the  ist  Epistle  to 
the  Corinthians,  so  important  for  the  idea  of  the  calling. 

Asceticism  and  the  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

But  all  the  more  emphasis  was  placed  on  those  parts 
of  the  Old  Testament  which  praise  formal  legality  as 
a-  sign  of  conduct  pleasing  to  God.  They  held  the 
theory  that  the  Mosaic  Law  had  only  lost  its  validity 
through  Christ  in  so  far  as  it  contained  ceremonial  or 
purely  historical  precepts  applying  only  to  the  Jewish 
people,  but  that  otherwise  it  had  always  been  valid 
as  an  expression  of  the  natural  law,  and  must  hence  be 
retained. ^^  This  made  it  possible,  on  the  one  hand,  to 
eliminate  elements  which  could  not  be  reconciled  with 
modern  life.  But  still,  through  its  numerous  related 
features,  Old  Testament  morality  was  able  to  give  a 
powerful  impetus  to  that  spirit  of  self-righteous  and 
sober  legality  which  was  so  characteristic  of  the  worldly 
asceticism  of  this  form  of  Protestantism.^^ 

Thus  when  authors,  as  was  the  case  with  several 
contemporaries  as  well  as  later  writers,  characterize  the 
basic  ethical  tendency  of  Puritanism,  especially  in 
England,  as  English  Hebraism^ ^  they  are,  correctly 
understood,  not  wrong.  It  is  necessary,  however,  not 
to  think  of  Palestinian  Judaism  at  the  time  of  the 
writing  of  the  Scriptures,  but  of  Judaism  as  it  became 
under  the  influence  of  many  centuries  of  formalistic, 
legalistic,  and  Talmudic  education.  Even  then  one  must 
be  very  careful  in  drawing  parallels.  The  general 
I  tendency  of  the  older  Judaism  toward  a  naive  accept- 
ance of  life  as  such  was  far  removed  from  the  special 
characteristics  of  Puritanism.  It  was,  however,  just  as 
far — and  this  ought  not  to  be  overlooked — from  the 
economic  ethics  of  mediaeval  and  modern  Judaism,  in 
the  traits  which  determined  the  positions  of  both  in 
the  development  of  the  capitalistic  ethos.  The  Jews 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

stood  on  the  side  of  the  politically  and  speculatively 
oriented  adventurous  capitalism;  their  ethos  was,  in  a 
word,  that  of  pariah-capitalism.  But  Puritanism  carried 
the  ethos  of  the  rational  organization  of  capital  and 
labour.  It  took  over  from  the  Jewish  ethic  only  what 
was  adapted  to  this  purpose. 

To  analyse  the  effects  on  the  character  of  peoples  of 
the  penetration  of  life  with  Old  Testament  norms — a 
tempting  task  which,  however,  has  not  yet  satisfactorily 
been  done  even  for  Judaism^® — would  be  impossible 
within  the  limits  of  this  sketch.  In  addition  to  the 
relationships  already  pointed  out,* it  is  important  for  the 
general  inner  attitude  of  the  Puritans,  above  all,  that 
the  belief  that  they  were  God's  chosen  people  saw  in 
them  a  great  renaissance.^^  Even  the  kindly  Baxter 
thanked  God  that  he  was  born  in  England,  and  thus  in 
the  true  Church,  and  nowhere  else.  This  thankfulness 
for  one's  own  perfection  by  the  grace  of  God  penetrated 
the  attitude  toward  life  ^^  of  the  Puritan  middle  class, 
and  played  its  part  in  developing  that  formalistic,  hard, 
correct  character  which  was  peculiar  to  the  men  of  that 
heroic  age  of  capitalism. 

Let  us  now  try  to  clarify  the  points  in  which  the 
Puritan  idea  of  the  calling  and  the  premium  it  placed 
upon  ascetic  conduct  was  bound  directly  to  influence 

^      the  development  of  a  capitalistic  way  of  life.  As  we  have 
seen,  this  asceticism  turned  with  all  its  force  against 

\     one_tliingiJjbL^_5pQntaneous  enjoyment  of  life  and  all 

7it Jiad_to_offer.  This  is  perhaps  most  charä^cteristically 

brought  out  in  the  struggle  over  the  Book  of  Sports  ^^ 

which  James  I  and  Charles  I  made  into  law  expressly 

as  a  means  of  counteracting  Puritanism,  and  which 


Asceticism  and  the  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

the  latter  ordered  to  be  read  from  all  the  pulpits.  The 
fanatical  opposition  of  the  Puritans  to  the  ordinances 
of  the  King,  permitting  certain  popular  amusements  on 
Sunday  outside  of  Church  hours  by  law,  was  not  only 
explained  by  the  disturbance  of  the  Sabbath  rest,  but 
also  by  resentment  against  the  intentional  diversion 
from  the  ordered  life  of  the  saint,  which  it  caused. 
And,  on  his  side,  the  King's  threats  of  severe  punish- 
ment for  every  attack  on  the  legality  of  those  sports 
were  motivated  by  his  purpose  of  breaking  the  anti- 
authoritarian  ascetic  tendency  of  Puritanism,  which  was 
so  dangerous  to  the  State.  The  feudal  and  monarchical 
forces  protected  the  pleasure  seekers  against  the 
rising  middle-class  morality  and  the  anti-authoritarian 
ascetic  conventicles,  just  as  to-day  capitalistic  society 
tends  to  protect  those  willing  to  work  against  the  class 
morality  of  the  proletariat  and  the  anti-authoritarian 
trade  union. 

As  against  this  the  Puritans  upheld  their  decisive 
characteristic,  the  principle  of  ascetic  conduct.  For 
otherwise  the  Puritan  aversion  to  sport,  even  for  the 
Quakers,  was  by  no  means  simply  one  of  principle. 
Sport  was  accepted  if  it  served  a  rational  purpose,  that 
of  recreation  necessary  for  physical  efficiency.  But  as  a 
means  for  the  spontaneous  expression  of  undisciplined 
impulses,  it  was  under  suspicion;  and  in  so  far  as  it 
became  purely  a  means  of  enjoyment,  or  awakened 
pride,  raw  instincts  or  the  irrational  gambling  instinct, 
it  was  of  course  strictly  condemned.  Impulsive  enjoy- 
ment of  life,  which  leads  away  both  from  work  in  a 
calling  and  from  religion,  was  as  such  the  enemy  of 
rational  asceticism,  whether  in  the  form  of  seigneurial 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

sports,  or  the  enjoyment  of  the  dance-hall  or  the  public- 
house  of  the  common  man.^^ 

Its  attitude  was  thus  suspicious  and  often  hostile  to 
the  aspects  of  culture  without  any  immediate  religious 
value.  It  is  not,  however,  true  that  the  ideals  of  Puritan- 
ism implied  a  solemn,  narrow-minded  contempt  of 
culture.  Quite  the  contrary  is  the  case  at  least  for 
science,  with  the  exception  of  the  hatred  of  Scholasti- 
cism. Moreover,  the  great  men  of  the  Puritan  movement 
were  thoroughly  steeped  in  the  culture  of  the  Renais- 
sance. The  sermons  of  the  Presbyterian  divines  abound 
with  classical  allusions, ^^  and  even  the  Radicals,  although 
they  objected  to  it,  were  not  ashamed  to  display  that 
kind  of  learning  in  theological  polemics.  Perhaps  no 
country  was  ever  so  full  of  graduates  as  New  England 
in  the  first  generation  of  its  existence.  The  satire  of 
their  opponents,  such  as,  for  instance,  Butler's  Hudibras, 
also  attacks  primarily  the  pedantry  and  highly  trained 
dialectics  of  the  Puritans.  This  is  partially  due  to  the 
religious  valuation  of  knowledge  which  followed  from 
their  attitude  to  the  Catholic  fides  implicita. 

But  the  situation  is  quite  different  when  one  looks 
at  non-scientific  literature,^*  and  especially  the  fine 
arts.  Here  asceticism  descended  like  a  frost  on  the  life 
of  "Merrie  old  England."  And  not  only  worldly  merri- 
ment felt  its  effect.  The  Puritan's  ferocious  hatred  of 
everything  which  smacked  of  superstition,  of  all 
survivals  of  magical  or  sacramental  salvation,  applied 
to  the  Christmas  festivities  and  the  May  Pole  ^^  and 
all  spontaneous  religious  art.  That  there  was  room  in 
Holland  for  a  great,  often  uncouthly  realistic  art^^ 
proves  only  how  far  from  completely  the  authoritarian 
1 68 


Asceticism  and  the  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

moral  discipline  of  that  country  was  able  to  counteract 
the  influence  of  the  court  and  the  regents  (a  class  of 
rentiers),  and  also  the  joy  in  life  of  the  parvenu  bour- 
geoisie, after  the  short  supremacy  of  the  Calvinistic 
theocracy  had  been  transformed  into  a  moderate 
national  Church,  and  with  it  Calvinism  had  perceptibly 
lost  in  its  power  of  ascetic  influence.^' 

The  theatre  was  obnoxious  to  the  Puritans,^^  and 
with  the  strict  exclusion  of  the  erotic  and  of  nudity 
from  the  realm  of  toleration,  a  radical  view  of  either 
literature  or  art  could  not  exist.  The  conceptions  of 
idle  talk,  of  superfluities,^^  and  of  vain  ostentation,  all 
designations  of  an  irrational  attitude  without  objective 
purpose,  thus  not  ascetic,  and  especially  not  serving  the 
glory  of  God,  but  of  man,  were  always  at  hand  to  serve 
in  deciding  in  favour  of  sober  utility  as  against  any 
artistic  tendencies.  This  was  especially  true  in  the 
case  of  decoration  of  the  person,  for  instance  clothing."^ 
That  powerful  tendency  toward  uniformity  of  life,  which 
to-day  so  immensely  aids  the  capitalistic  interest  in  the 
standardization  of  production, '^  had  its  ideal  founda- 
tions in  the  repudiation  of  all  idolatry  of  the  flesh. ""^ 

Of  course  we  must  not  forget  that  Puritanism  in- 
cluded a  world  of  contradictions,  and  that  the  instinc- 
tive sense  of  eternal  greatness  in  art  was  certainly 
stronger  among  its  leaders  than  in  the  atmosphere 
of  the  Cavaliers."^  Moreover,  a  unique  genius  like 
Rembrandt,  however  little  his  conduct  may  have  been 
acceptable  to  God  in  the  eyes  of  the  Puritans,  was  very 
strongly  influenced  in  the  character  of  his  work  by  his 
religious  environment.''*  But  that  does  not  alter  the 
picture  as  a  whole.  In  so  far  as  the  development  of 

N  169 

The   Protesta?it   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

the  Puritan  tradition  could,  and  in  part  did,  lead  to 
a  powerful  spiritual ization  of  personality,  it  was  a 
decided  benefit  to  literature.  But  for  the  most  part 
that  benefit  only  accrued  to  later  generations. 

Although  we  cannot  here  enter  upon  a-  discussion  of 
the  influence  of  Puritanism  in  all  these  directions,  we 
should  call  attention  to  the  fact  that /the  toleration  of 
pleasure  in  cultural  goods,  which  contributed  to  purely 
aesthetic  or  athletic  enjoyment,  certainly  always  ran  up 
against  one  characteristic  limitation:  they  must  not 
cost  anything.  Man  is  only  a  trustee  of  the  goods  which 
have  come  to  him  through  God's  grace.  He  must,  like 
the  servant  in  the  parable,  give  an  account  of  every 
penny  entrusted  to  him,"*^  and  it  is  at  least  hazardous 
to  spend  any  of  it  for  a  purpose  which  does  not  serve 
the  glory  of  God  but  only  one's  own  enjoyment.''^ 
What  person,  who  keeps  his  eyes  open,  has  not  met 
representatives  of  this  view-point  even  in  the  present  P"^^ 
^The_jdeajiJLa_man's  duty  to  his  possessions,  to  which 
Ihe  subordinates  himself  as  an  obedient  steward,  or  even 
las  an  acquisitive  machine,  bears  with  chilling  weight 
on  his  life.  The  greater  the  possessions  the  heavier, 
if  the  ascetic  attitude  toward  life  stands  the  test,  the 
feeling  of  responsibility  for  them,  for  holding  them 
undiminished  for  the  glory  of  God  and  increasing  them 
Jby  restless  eftbrt.  The  origin  of  this  type  of  life  also 
extends  in  certain  roots,  like  so  many  aspects  of  the 
spirit  of  capitalism,  back  into  the  Middle  Ages.'^  But 
it  was  in  the  ethic  of  ascetic  Protestantism  that  it  first 
found  a  consistent  ethical  foundation.  Its  significance 
for  the  development  of  capitalisrn  is  obvious . ' ^ 

This  worldly  Protestant  asceticism,  as  we  may 

Asceticism  and  the  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

r£capitulatejipJojthjs_point,  acted  powerfully  against 
the  spontaneous  enjoyment  of  possessions ;  it  restricted 

^nsumption,  especially^nuxuries.  On  the  other  hand, 
it  had  the  psychological  effect  of  freeing  the  acquisition 
of  goods  from  the  inhibitions  of  traditionalistic  ethics- 
It  broke  the  bonds  of  the  impulse  of  acquisition  in  that 
it  not  only  legalized  it,  but  (in  the  sense  discussed) 
looked  upon  it  as  directly  willed  by  God.  The  campaign 
against  the  temptations  of  the  flesh,  and  the  depend-' 
ence  on  external  things,  was,  as  besides  the  Puritans 
the  great  Quaker  apologist  Barclay  expressly  says,  not 
a  struggle  against  the  rational  acquisition,  but  against 

.the  irratiTm2ri~use"ofwealth . 

Butlhis  irrational  usFwas  exemplified  in  the  outward 
forms  of  luxury  which  their  code  condemned  as  idolatry 
of  the  flesh ,^^  however  natural  they  had  appeared  to 
the  feudal  mind.  On  the  other  hand,  they  approved  the 
rational  and  utilitarian  uses  of  wealth  which  were  willed 
by  God  for  the  needs  of  the  individual  and  the  com- 
munity. They  did  not  wish  to  impose  mortification^^ 
on  the  man  of  wealth,  but  the  use  of  his  means  for 
necessary  and  practical  things.  The  idea  of  comfort  \y^ 
characteristically  limits  the  extent  of  ethically  permis- 
sil)le    expenditures.  It  is  naturally  no   accident   that 

'the  development  of  a  manner  of  living  consistent  with 
that  idea  may  be  observed  earliest  and  most  clearly 
among  the  most  consistent  representatives  of  this 
whole  attitude  toward  life.  Over  against  the  glitter  and 
ostentation  of  feudal  magnificence  which,  resting  on 
an  unsound  economic  basis,  prefers  a  sordid  elegance 
to  a  sober  simplicity,  they  set  the  clean  and  solid 
comfort  of  the  middle-class  home  as  an  ideal. ^'-^ 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and  the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

On  the  side  of  the  production  of  private  wealth, 
asceticism  condemned  both  dishonesty  and  impulsive 
avarice.  What  was  condemned  as  covetousness,  Mam- 
monism,  etc.,  was  the  pursuit  of  riches  for  their  own 
sake.  For  wealth  in  itself  was  a  temptation.  But  here 
asceticism  was  the  power  * 'which  ever  seeks  the  good 
but  ever  creates  evil"  ^^;  what  was  evil  in  its  sense  was 
possession  and  its  temptations.  For,  in  conformity  with 
the   Old   Testament   and   in   analogy  to   the   ethical 
valuation  of  good  works,  asceticism  looked  upon  the 
pursuit  of  wealth  as  an  end  in  itself  as  highly  repre- 
hensible ;  but  the  attainment  of  it  as  a  fruit  of  labour 
\  in  a  calling  was  a  sign  of  God's  blessing.  And  even 
jjinore  important:  the  religious  valuation  of  restless, 
'7  continuous,  systematic  work  in  a  worldly  calling,  as 
the  highest  means  to  asceticism,  and  at  the  same  time 
.  the   surest   and   most   evident   proof  of  rebirth   and 
!  genuine  faith,  must  have  been  the  most  powerful  con- 
1  ceivable  lever  for  the  expansion  of  that  attitude  toward 
r  life  which  we  have  here  called  the  spirit  of  capitalism.^* 
,|**2^When  the  limitation  of  consumption  is  combined 
(  \  with  this  release  of  acquisitive  activity,  the  inevitable 
'    practical  result   is   obvious:   accumulation   of  capital 
through  ascetic  compulsion  to  save.®^  The  restraints 
which  were  imposed  upon  the  consumption  of  wealth 
naturally  served  to  increase  it  by  making  possible  the 
productive   investment   of  capital.    How   strong   th|s 
influence   was   is   not,   unfortunately,   susceptible   of 
pvart  statistical  demonstration.  In  New  England  the 
connection  is  so  evident  that  ft  did  not  escape  the  eye 
of  so  discerning  a  historian  as  Doyle .^^  But  also  in 
Holland,  which  was  really  only  dominated  by  strict 


Asceticism  and  the  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

Calvinism  for  seven  years,  the  greater  simplicity  of 
life  in  the  more  seriously  religious  circles,  in  combina- 
tion with  great  wealth,  led  to  an  excessive  propensity 
to  accumulation.®^ 

That,  furthermore,  the  tendency  which  has  existed 
everywhere  and  at  all  times,  being  quite  strong  in 
Germany  to-day,  for  middle-class  fortunes  to  be 
absorbed  into  the  nobility,  was  necessarily  checked  by 
the  Puritan  antipathy  to  the  feudal  way  of  life,  is 
evident.  English  Mercantilist  writers  of  the  seventeenth 
century  attributed  the  superiority  of  Dutch  capital  to 
English  to  the  circumstance  that  newly  acquired  wealth 
there  did  not  regularly  seek  investment  in  land.  Also, 
since  it  is  not  simply  a  question  of  the  purchase  of 
land,  it  did  not  there  seek  to  transfer  itself  to  feudal 
habits  of  life,  and  thereby  to  remove  itself  from  the 
possibility  of  capitalistic  investment .^^  The  high  esteem 
for  agriculture  as  a  peculiarly  important  branch  of 
activity,  also  especially  consistent  with  piety,  which  the 
Puritans  shared,  applied  (for  instance  in  Baxter)  not  to 
the  landlord,  but  to  the  yeoman  and  farmer,  in  the 
eighteenth  century  not  to  the  squire,  but  the  rational 
cultivator.®^  Through  the  whole  of  English  society  in 
the  time  since  the  seventeenth  century  goes  the  conflict 
between  the  squirearchy,  the  representatives  of  "merrie 
old  England",  and  the  Puritan  circles  of  widely  varying 
social  influence. ^^  Both  elements,  that  of  an  unspoiled 
naive  joy  of  life,  and  of  a  strictly  regulated,  reserved 
self-control,  and  conventional  ethical  conduct  are  even 
to-day  combined  to  form  the  English  national  charac- 
ter.^^ Similarly,  the  early  history  of  the  North  American" 
Colonies  is  dominated  by  the  sharp  cöntrast~oFlEe 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

adventurers,  who  wanted  to  set  up  plantations  with  the 
labour  of  indentured  servants,  and  live  as  feudal  lords, 
and  the  specifically  middle-class  outlook  of  the  Puritans. ^^ 
As  far  as  the  influence  of  the  Puritan  outlook  ex- 
tended, under  all  circumstances — and  this  is,  of  course, 
much  more  important  than  the  mere  encouragement  of 
capital  accumulation — it  favoured  the  development  of 
a  rational  bourgeois  economic  life;  it  was  the  most 
important,  and  above  all  the  only  consistent  influence 
in  the  development  of  that  life.  It  stood  at  the  cradle  of 
the  modern  economic  man. 

To  be  sure,  these  Puritanical  ideals  tended  to  give 
way  under  excessive  pressure  from  the  temptations  of 
wealth,  as  the  Puritans  themselves  knew  very  well. 
With  great  regularity  we  find  the  most  genuine  adher- 
ents of  Puritanism  among  the  classes  which  were  rising 
from  a  lowly  status, ^^  the  small  bourgeois  and  farmers, 
while~the  beati  possidentes,  even  among  Quakers,  are 
often  found  tending  to  repudiate  the  old  ideals.^*  It 
was  the  same  fate  which  again  and  again  befell  the 
predecessor  of  this  worldly  asceticism,  the  monastic 
asceticism  of  the  Middle  Ages.  In  the  latter  case,  when 
/rational  economic  activity  had  worked  out  its  full  effects 
by  strict  regulation  of  conduct  and  limitation  of  con- 
sumption, the  wealth  accumulated  either  succumbed 
directly  to  the  nobility,  as  in  the  time  before  the  Reforma- 
tion, or  monastic  discipline  threatened  to  break  down, 
and  one  of  the  numerous  reformations  became  necessary. 

In  fact  the  wlible   history  of  monasticTsm  is  in  a 

certain  sense  the  history  of  a  continual  struggle  with 

the  problem  of  the  secularizing  influence  of  wealth. 

The  same  is  true  on  a  grand  scale  of  the  worldly 


Asceticism  and  the  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

asceticism  of  Puritanism.  The  great  revival  of  Method- 
ism, which  preceded  the  expansion  of  EngHsh  industry 
toward  the  end  of  the  eighteenth  century,  may  well  be 
compared  with  such  a  monastic  reform.  We  may  hence 
quote  here  a  passage^^  from  John  Wesley  himself  which 
might  well  serve  as  a  motto  for  everything  which  has  been 
said  above.  For  it  shows  that  the  leaders  of  these  ascetic 
movements  understood  the  seemingly  paradoxical  rela- 
tionships which  we  have  here  analysed  perfectly  well,  and 
in  the  same  sense  that  we  have  given  them.^^  He  wrote : 

"I  fear,  wherever  riches  have  increased,  the  essence' 
of  religion  has  decreased  in  the  same  proportion/ 
Therefore  I  do  not  see  how  it  is  possible,  in  the  nature 
of  things,  for  any  revival  of  true  religion  to  continue 
long.  For  religion  must  necessarily  produce  both 
industry  and  frugality,  and  these  cannot  but  produce 
riches.  But  as  riches  increase,  so  will  pride,  anger,  and 
love  of  the  world  in  all  its  branches.  How  then  is  it 
possible  that  Methodism,  that  is,  a  religion  of  the  heart, 
though  it  flourishes  now  as  a  green  bay  tree,  should 
continue  in  this  state?  For  the  Methodists  in  every 
place  grow  diligent  and  frugal;  consequently  they 
increase  in  goods.  Hence  they  proportionately  increase 
in  pride,  in  anger,  in  the  desire  of  the  flesh,  the  desire 
of  the  eyes,  and  the  pride  of  life.  So,  although  the  form 
of  religion  remains,  the  spirit  is  swiftly  vanishing  away. 
Is  there  no  way  to  prevent  this — this  continual  decay 
of  pure  religion  ?  We_9ught^not  to  prevent  people  from^ 
being  diligent  and  frugal;  we  must  exhort  all  Christians 
togain  all  they  can,  and  to  save  all  they  can',  that  isy  inj 
effect f  to  grow  rich.''  ^' 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

There  follows  the  advice  that  those  who  gain  all  they 
can  and  save  all  they  can  should  also  give  all  they  can, 
so  that  they  will  grow  in  grace  and  lay  up  a  treasure  in 
heaven.  It  is  clear  that  Wesley  here  expresses^  even  in 
detail,  just  what  we  have  been  trying  to-point^ut . ^^ 

As  Wesley  here  says,  the  full  economic  effect  of  those 
great  religious  movements,  whose  significance  for 
economic  development  lay  above  ail  in  their  ascetic 
educative  influence,  generally  came  only  after  the  peak 
of  the  purely  religious  enthusiasm  was  past.  Then  the 
intensity  of  the  search  for  the  Kingdom  of  God  com- 
menced gradually  to  pass  over  into  sober  economic 
virtue ;  the  religious  roots  died  out  slowly,  giving  way 
to  utilitarian  worldliness.  Then,  as  Dowden  puts  it,  as  in 
Robinson  Crusoe,  the  isolated  economic  man  who  carries 
on  missionary  activities  on  the  side  ^^  takes  the  place 
of  the  lonely  spiritual  search  for  the  Kingdom  of 
Heaven  of  Bunyan's  pilgrim,  hurrying  through  the 
market-place  of  Vanity. 

When  later  the  principle  **to  make  the  most  of  both 
worlds"  became  dominant  in  the  end,  as  Dowden  has 
remarked,  a  good  conscience  simply  became  one  of  the 
means  of  enjoying  a  comfortable  bourgeois  life,  as  is 
well  expressed  in  the  German  proverb  about  the  soft 
pillow.  What  the  great  religious  epoch  of  the  seven- 
teenth century  bequeathed  to  its  utilitarian  successor 
was,  however,  above  all  an  amazingly  good,  we  may 
even  say  a  pharisaically  good,  conscience  in  the  acqui- 
sition of  money,  so  long  as  it  took  place  legally.  Every 
trace  of  the  deplacere  vix  potest  has  disappeared. ^^^ 
[  "  A  specifically  bourgeois  economic  ethic  had  grown 
up.  With  the  conscio.usness  of  standing  in  the  fullness 
~  "176 


Asceticism  and  the  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

/of  God's  grace  and  being  visibly  blessed  by  Him,  the 
'bourgeois  business  man,  as  long  as  he  remained  within 
the  bounds  of  formal  correctness,  as  long  as  his  moral 
conduct  was  spotless  and  the  use  to  which  he  put  his 
wealth  was  not  objectionable,  could  follow  his  pecuniary 
interests  as  he  would  and  feel  that  he  was  fulfilling  ai 
luty  in  doing  so.  The  power  of  religious  asceticisnr 
provided  Tum  in  addition  with  sober,  conscientious,  and 
unusually  industrious  workmen,  who  clung  to  their 
work  as  to  a  life  purpose  willed  by  God.^^^ 

Finally,  it  gave  him  the  comforting  assurance  that 
the  unequal  distribution  of  the  goods  of  this  world  was 
a  special  dispensation  of  Divine  Providence,  which  in 
these  differences,  as  in  particular  grace,  pursued  secret 
ends  unknown  to  men.^^^  Calvin  himself  had  made  the 
much-quoted  statement  that  only  when  the  people,  i.e. 
the  mass  of  labourers  and  craftsmen,  were  poor  did 
they  remain  obedient  to  God.^^^  In  the  Netherlands 
(Pieter  de  la  Court  and  others),  that  had  been  secularized 
to  the  effect  that  the  mass  of  men  only  labour  when 
necessity  forces  them  to  do  so.  This  formulation  of  aj 
leading  idea  of  capitalistic  economy  later  entered  into! 
the  current  theories  of  the  productivity  of  low  wages. 
Here  also,  with  the  dying  out  of  the  religious  root,  th^ 
utilitarian  interpretation  crept  in  unnoticed,  in  the  line 
of  development  which  we  have  again  and  again  observed^ 

Mediaeval  ethics  not  only  tolerated  begging  but 
actually  glorified  it  in  the  mendicant  orders.  Even 
secular  beggars,  since  they  gave  the  person  of  means 
opportunity  for  good  works  through  giving  alms,  were 
sometimes  considered  an  estate  and  treated  as  such. 
Even  the  Anglican  social  ethic  of  the  Stuarts  was  very 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

close  to  this  attitude.  It  remained  for  Puritan  Ascetic- 
ism to  take  part  in  the  severe  EngHsh  Poor  ReHef 
Legislation  which  fundamentally  changed  the  situation. 
And  it  could  do  that,  because  the  Protestant  sects  and 
the  strict  Puritan  communities  actually  did  not  know 
any.  begging  in  their  own  midst. ^^^ 

On  the  other  hand,  seen  from  the  side  of  the  workers, 
the  Zinzendorf  branch  of  Pietism,  for  instance,  glorified 
the  loyal  worker  who  did  not  seek  acquisition,  but  lived 
according  to  the  apostolic  model,  and  was  thus  en- 
dowed with  the  charisma^^^  of  the  disciples. ^^^  Similar 
ideas  had  originally  been  prevalent  among  the  Baptists 
in  an  even  more  radical  form. 

Now  naturally  the  whole  ascetic  literature  of  almost 

all  denominations  is  saturated  with  the  idea  that  faithful 

labour,  even  at  low  wages,  on  the  part  of  those  whom 

life  offers  no  other  opportunities,  is  highly  pleasing  to 

God.  In  this  respect  Protestant  Asceticism  added  in 

pitselF  nothing  new.  But  it  not  only  deepened  this  idea 

most  powerfully,  it  also  created  the  force  which  was 

alone  decisive  for  its  effectiveness:  the  psychological 

sanction  of  it  through  the  conception  of  this  labour  as 

a  calling,  as  the  best,  often  in  the  last  analysis  the  only 

means  of  attaining  certainty  of  grace. ^^^  And  on  the 

oth^  hamülLlegalizedthe  exploitation  of  this  specific 

willingness  to  work,  ip^jthat  it  also  interpreted  the 

j    employer's  business  activity  as  a  calling.^^^  It  is  obvious 

""how  powerfully  the  exclusive  search  for  the  Kingdom 

,,of  God  only  through  the  fulfilment  of  duty  in  the 

/  calling,  and  the  strict  asceticism  which  Church  disci- 

l    pline  naturally  imposed,  especially  on  the  propertyless 

\  classes,  was  bound  to  affect  the  productivity  of  labour 


Asceticism  and  the  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

in  the  capitalistic  sense  of  the  word.  The  treatment 
of  labour'  as  a  calHng  became  as  characteristic  of  the 
modern  worker  as  the  corresponding  attitude  toward 
acquisition  of  the  business  man.  It  was  a  perception  of 
this  situation,  new  at  his  time,  which  caused  so  able  an 
observer  as  Sir  William  Petty  to  attribute  the  economic 
power  of  Holland  in  the  seventeenth  century  to  the 
fact  that  the  very  numerous  dissenters  in  that  country 
(Calvinists  and  Baptists)  "are  for  the  most  part  thinking, 
sober  men,  and  such  as  believe  that  Labour  and  In- 
dustry is  their  duty  towards  God".^^^ 

Calvinism  opposed  organic  social  organization  in  the 
fiscal-monopolistic  form  which  it  assumed  in  Anglican- 
ism under  the  Stuarts,  especially  in  the  conceptions  of 
Laud,  this  alliance  of  Church  and  State  with  the 
monopolists  on  the  basis  of  a  Christian-social  ethical 
foundation.  Its  leaders  were  universally  among  the 
most  passionate  opponents  of  this  type  of  politically 
privileged  commercial,  putting-out,  and  colonial 
capitalism.  Over  against  it  they  placed  the  individual- 
istic motives  of  rational  legal  acquisition  by  virtue  of 
one's  own  ability  and  initiative.  And,  while  the  politic- 
ally privileged  monopoly  industries  in  England  all 
disappeared  in  short  order,  this  attitude  played  a  large 
and  decisive  part  in  the  development  of  the  industries 
which  grew  up  in  spite  of  and  against  the  authority 
of  the  State. 1^^  The  Puritans  (Prynne,  Parker)  repudi- 
ated all  connection  with  the  large-scale  capitalistic 
courtiers  and  projectors  as  an  ethically  suspicious  class. 
On  the  other  hand,  they  took  pride  in  their  own 
superior  middle-class  business  morality,  which  formed 
the  true  reason  for  the  persecutions  to  which  they  were 


The   Protestafit   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of   Capitalism 

subjected  on  the  part  of  those  circles.  Defoe  proposed 
to  win  the  battle  against  dissent  by  boycotting  bank 
credit  and  withdrawing  deposits.  The  difference  of  the 
two  types  of  capitalistic  attitude  went  to  a  very  large 
extent  hand  in  hand  with  religious  differences.  The 
opponents  of  the  Nonconformists,  even  in  the  eight- 
eenth century,  again  and  again  ridiculed  them  for 
personifying  the  spirit  of  shopkeepers,  and  for  having 
ruined  the  ideals  of  old  England.  Here  also  lay  the 
difference  of  the  Puritan  economic  ethic  from  the 
Jewish;  and  contemporaries  (Prynne)  knew  well  that 
the  former  and  not  the  latter  was  the  bourgeois  capital- 
istic ethic. 11^ 

^  One  of  the  fundamental  elements  of  the  spirit  of 
[modern  capitalism,  and  not  only  of  that  but  of  all 
I  modern  culture:  rational  conduct  on  the  basis  of  the 
idea  of  the  calling,  was  born — ^that  is  what  this  dis- 
cussion has  sT5trght^o  demonstrate — ^from  the  spirit 
jof  Christian  asceticism.  One  has  only  to  re-read  the 
passage  from  Franklin,  quoted  at  the  beginning  of  this 
essay,  in  order  to  see  that  the  essential  elements  of  the 
attitude  which  was  there  called  the  spirit  of  capitalism 
are  the  same  as  what  we  have  just  shown  to  be  the 
content  of  the  Puritan  worldly  asceticism,^^^  only 
without  the  religious  basis,  ^^hichby  Franklin's  time 
had  died  awav.  The  idea  that  modern  "Tabour^iras  an 

ascetic  character  is  of  course  not  new.  Limitation  to 
specialized  work,  with  a  renunciation  of  the  Faustian 
universality  of  man  which  it  involves,  is  a  condition  of 
any  valuable  work  in  the  modern  world;  hence  deeds 
and  renunciation  inevitably  condition  each  other  to- 
day. This  fundamentally  ascetic  trait  of  middle-class 

Asceticism  and  the  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

life,  if  it  attempts  to  be  a  way  of  life  at  all,  and  not 
simply  the  absence  of  any,  was  what  Goethe  wanted 
to  teach,  at  the  height  of  his  wisdom,  in  the  Wander- 
jähren,  and  in  the  end  which  he  gave  to  the  life  of  his 
'    Fatist}^^  For  him  the  realization  meant  a  renunciation, 
'    a  departure  from  an  age  of  full  and  beautiful  humanity, 
which  can  no  more  be  repeated  in  the  course  of  our 
cultural    development    than    can    the    flower    of   the 
Athenian  culture  of  antiquity. 
[       The  Puritan  wanted  to  work  in  a  calling;  :a[£_are 
'  _fo£C£djo_do_sa^For  when  asceticism  was  carried  out  of 
monastic  cells  into  everyday  life,  and  began  to  dominate 
worldly  morality,  it  did  its  part  in  building  the  tremen- 
dous cosmos  of  the  modern  economic  order.  This  order 
is  now  bound  to  the  technical  and  economic  conditions 
of  machine  production  which  to-day  determine  the 
lives  of  all^  the  individuals  who  are  born  into  this 
mechanism,  not  only  those   directly  concerned  with 
economic  acquisition,  with  irresistible  force.  Perhaps 
it  will  so  determine  them  until  the  last  ton  of  fossilized 
coal  is  burnt.  In  Baxter's  view  the  care  for  external 
^oods  should  only  lie  on  the  shoulders^oFlhe  *jäjnt 
like  a  light  cloak,  which  can  be  thrownaside  at  any 
^_nioment'\^^^  But  fate  decreed  that  the  cloak  should 
_become  an  iron  cage. 

Since  asceticism  undertook  to  remodel  the  world  and 
to  work  out  its  ideals  in  the  world,  material  goods  havi 
gained  an  increasing  and  finally  an  inexorable  power\ 
over  the  lives  of  men  as  at  no  previous  period  in  his- 
tory. To-day  the  spirit  of  religious  asceticism — whether 
.finally,  who  knows? — has  escaped  from  the  cage.  But 
victorious    capitalism,    since    it    rests    on    mechanical 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

foundations,  needs  its  support  no  longer.  The  rosy 
blush  of  its  laughing  heir,  the  Enlightenment,  seems 
also  to  be  irretrievably  fading,  and  the  idea_of_duty  in 
one's  calling  prowls  about  in  our  lives  likejiie- ghost 
ofHdead  religious  beliefs.  Where  the_  fulfilment  of  the 
calling  cannot  directly  be  related  to  the  highest  spiritual 
and  cultural  values7~br  when,  on  the  other  hand,  it 
need  not  be  felt  simpfy  as  economic  compulsion,  the 
individual  generally  abandons  the  attempt  to  justify  it 
at  all.  In  the  field  of  its  highest  development,  in  the 
United  States,  the  pursuit  of  wealth,  stripped  of  its 
religious  and  ethical  meaning,  tends  to  become  asso- 
ciated with  purely  mundane  passions,  which  often 
actually  give  it  the  character  of  sport .^^^ 

^  No  one  knows  who  will  live  in  this  cage  in  the  future, 
or  whether  at  the  end  of  this  tremendous  development 
entirely  new  prophets  will  arise,  or  there  will  be  a 
great  rebirth  of  old  ideas  and  ideals,  or,  if  neither, 
mechanized  petrification,  embellished  with  a  sort  of 
convulsive  self-importance.  For  of  the  last  stage  of 
s  cultural  development,  it  might  well  be  truly  said : 

Specialists  without  spirit,  sensualists  without  heart ; 
this  nullity  imagines  that  it  has  attained  a  level  of 
civilization  never  before  achieved." 

But  this  brings  us  to  the  world  of  judgments  of 
value  and  of  faith,  with  which  this  purely  historical 
discussion  need  not  be  burdened.  The  next  task  would 
be  rather  to  show  the  significance  of  ascetic  rationalism, 
which  has  only  been  touched  in  the  foregoing  sketch, 
for  the  content  of  practical  social  ethics,  thus  for 
the  types  of  organization  and  the  functions  of  social  ^ 
groups  from  the  conventicle  to  the   State.  Then  its 


Asceticism  and  the  Spirit  of  Capitalism 

relations  to  humanistic  rationalism/^^  its  ideals  of  life 
and  cultural  influence;  further  to  the  development  of 
philosophical  and  scientific  empiricism,  to  technical 
development  and  to  spiritual  ideals  would  have  to  be 
analysed.  Then__its  historical  development  from  the 
mediaeval  beginnings  of  worldl)^  asceticism  to  its 
dissolution  into  pure  utilitarianism  would  have  to  be 
traced  out  through  all  the  areas  of  ascetic  religion.  Only 
then  could  the  quantitative  cultural  significance  of 
ascetic  Protestantism  in  its  relation  to  the  other  plastic 
elements  of  modern  culture  be  estimated. 

Here  we  have  only  attempted  to  trace  the  fact  and 
the  direction  of  its  influence  to  their  motives  in  one, 
though  a  very  important  point.  But  it  would  also 
Turther  be  necessary  to  investigate  how  Protestant 
Asceticism  was  in  turn  influenced  in  its  development 
and  its  character  by  the  totality  of  social  conditions, 
especially  economic.^^'^  The  modern  man  is  in  general, 
even  with  the  best  will,  unable  to  give  religious  ideas 
a  significance  for  culture  and  national  character  which 
they  deserve.  But  it  is,  of  course,  not  my  aim  to  sub- 
stitute for  a  one-sided  materialistic  an  equally  one- 
sided spiritualistic  causal  interpretation  of  culture  and 
of  history.  Each  is  equally  possible,^i^  but  each,  if  it 
does  not  serve  as  the  preparation,  but  as  the  conclusion 
of  an  investigation,  accomplishes  equally  little  in  the 
interest  of  historical  truth  .^^^ 




1.  Ständestaat.  The  term  refers  to  the  late  form  taken  by  feudalism 
in  Europe  in  its  transition  to  absolute  monarchy. — ^Translator's  Note. 

2.  Here,  as  on  some  other  points,  I  differ  from  our  honoured 
master,  Lujo  Brentano  (in  his  work  to  be  cited  later).  Chiefly  in 
regard  to  terminology,  but  also  on  questions  of  fact.  It  does  not  seem 
to  me  expedient  to  bring  such  different  things  as  acquisition  of  booty 
and  acquisition  by  management  of  a  factory  together  under  the  same 
category;  still  less  to  designate  every  tendency  to  the  acquisition  of 
money  as  the  spirit  of  capitalism  as  against  other  types  of  acquisition. 
The  second  sacrifices  all  precision  of  concepts,  and  the  first  the 
possibility  of  clarifying  the  specific  difference  between  Occidental 
capitalism  and  other  forms.  Also  in  Simmel's  Philosophie  des  Geldes 
money  economy  and  capitalism  are  too  closely  identified,  to  the 
detriment  of  his  concrete  analysis.  In  the  writings  of  Werner  Sombart, 
above  all  in  the  second  edition  of  his  most  important  work.  Der 
moderne  Kapitalismus,  the  differentia  specifica  of  Occidental  capitalism 
— at  least  from  the  view -point  of  my  problem — the  rational  organiza- 
tion of  labour,  is  strongly  overshadowed  by  genetic  factors  which 
have  been  operative  everywhere  in  the  world. 

3.  Commenda  was  a  form  of  mediaeval  trading  association,  entered 
into  ad  hoc  for  carrying  out  one  sea  voyage.  A  producer  or  exporter 
of  goods  turned  them  over  to  another  who  took  them  abroad  (on  a 
ship  provided  sometimes  by  one  party,  sometimes  by  the  other)  and 
sold  them,  receiving  a  share  in  the  profits.  The  expenses  of  the 
voyage  were  divided  between  the  two  in  agreed  proportion,  while 
the  original  shipper  bore  the  risk.  See  Weber,  "Handelsgesellschaften 
im  Mittelalter",  Gesammelte  Aufsätze  zur  Sozial-  und  Wirtschafts- 
geschichte, pp.  323-8. — ^Translator's  Note. 

4.  The  sea  loan,  used  in  maritime  commerce  in  the  Middle  Ages, 
was  "a  method  of  insuring  against  the  risks  of  the  sea  without  violating 
the  prohibitions  against  usury.  .  .  .  When  certain  risky  maritime 
ventures  were  to  be  undertaken,  a  certain  sum  .  .  .  was  obtained  for 
the  cargo  belonging  to  such  and  such  a  person  or  capitalist.  If  the 
ship  was  lost,  no  repayment  was  exacted  by  the  lender ;  if  it  reached 
port  safely,  the  borrower  paid  a  considerable  premium,  sometimes  50 per 
cent."  Henri  See,  Modern  Capitalism,  p.  189. — Translator's  Note. 

5.  A  form  of  company  between  the  partnership  and  the  limited 
liability  corporation.  At  one  of  the  participants  is  made  liable 
without  limit,  while  the  others  enjoy  limitation  of  liability  to  the 
amount  of  their  investment. — Translator's  Note. 

o  185 

The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit    of  Capitalism 

6.  Naturally  the  difference  cannot  be  conceived  in  absolute  terms. 
The  politically  oriented  capitalism  (above  all  tax-farming)  of  Mediter- 
ranean and  Oriental  antiquity,  and  even  of  China  and  India,  gave 
rise  to  rational,  continuous  enterprises  whose  book-keeping — though 
known  to  us  only  in  pitiful  fragments — probably  had  a  rational 
character.  Furthermore,  the  politically  oriented  adventurers 'capitalism 
has  been  closely  associated  with  rational  bourgeois  capitalism  in  the 
development  of  modern  banks,  which,  including  the  Bank  of  England, 
have  tor  the  most  part  originated  in  transactions  of  a  political  nature, 
often  connected  with  war.  The  difference  between  the  characters  of 
Paterson,  for  instance — a  typical  promoter — and  of  the  members  of 
the  directorate  of  the  Bank  who  gave  the  keynote  to  its  permanent 
policy,  and  very  soon  came  to  be  known  as  the  "Puritan  usurers  of 
Grocers'  Hall",  is  characteristic  of  it.  Similarly,  we  have  the  aberra- 
tion of  the  policy  of  this  most  solid  bank  at  the  time  of  the  South 
Sea  Bubble.  Thus  the  two  naturally  shade  off  into  each  other.  But 
the  difference  is  there.  The  great  promoters  and  financiers  have  no 
more  created  the  rational  organization  of  labour  than — again  in 
general  and  with  individual  exceptions — those  other  typical  repre- 
sentatives of  financial  and  political  capitalism,  the  Jews.  That  was 
done,  typically,  by  quite  a  different  set  of  people. 

7.  For  Weber's  discussion  of  the  ineffectiveness  of  slave  labour, 
especially  so  far  as  calculation  is  concerned,  see  his  essay,  "Agrar- 
verhältnisse im  Altertum",  in  the  volume  Gesammelte  Aufsätze  zur 
Sozial-  und  Wirtschaftsgeschichte . — Translator's  Note. 

8.  That  is,  in  the  whole  series  of  Aufsätze  zur  Religionssoziologie , 
not  only  in  the  essay  here  translated.  See  translator's  preface. — 
Translator's  Note. 

9 .  The  remains  of  my  knowledge  of  Hebrew  are  also  quite  inadequate. 

10.  I  need  hardly  point  out  that  this  does  not  apply  to  attempts 
like  that  of  Karl  Jasper's  (in  his  hook  Psychologie  der  Weltanschauungen, 
1919),  nor  to  Klages's  Charakterologie,  and  similar  studies  which 
differ  from  our  own  in  their  point  of  departure.  There  is  no  space 
here  for  a  criticism  of  them. 

11.  The  only  thing  of  this  kind  which  Weber  ever  wrote  is  the 
section  on  "Religionssoziologie"  in  his  large  work  Wirtschaft  und 
Gesellschaft.  It  was  left  unfinished  by  him  and  does  not  really  close 
the  gap  satisfactorily. — Translator's  Note. 

12.  Some  years  ago  an  eminent  psychiatrist  expressed  the  same 
opinion  to  me. 


I.  From  the  voluminous  literature  which  has  grown  up  around 
this  essay  I  cite  only  the  most  comprehensive  criticisms,  (i)  F. 
Rachfahl,  "Kalvinismus  und  Kapitalismus",  biternationale  Wochen- 
schrift für  Wissenschaft,  Kunst  und  Technik  (1909),  Nos.  39-43.   In 



reply,  my  article:  "Antikritisches  zum  Geist  des  Kapitalismus," 
Archiv  für  Sozialwissenschaft  und  Sozialpolitik  (Tübingen),  XX, 
1910.  Then  Rachfahl's  reply  to  that:  "Nochmals  Kalvinismus  und 
Kapitalismus",  1910,  Nos.  22-25,  of  the  Internationale  Wochenschrift. 
Finally  my  "Antikritisches  Schlusswort",  Archiv,  XXXI.  (Brentano, 
in  the  criticism  presently  to  be  referred  to,  evidently  did  not  know 
of  this  last  phase  of  the  discussion,  as  he  does  not  refer  to  it.)  I  have 
not  incorporated  anything  in  this  edition  from  the  somewhat  un- 
fruitful polemics  against  Rachfahl .  He  is  an  author  whom  I  otherwise 
admire,  but  who  has  in  this  instance  ventured  into  a  field  which  he 
has  not  thoroughly  mastered .  I  have  only  added  a  few  supplementary 
references  from  my  anti -critique,  and  have  attempted,  in  new  passages 
and  footnotes,  to  make  impossible  any  future  misunderstanding. 
(2)  W.  Sombart,  in  his  book  Der  Bourgeois  (Munich  and  Leipzig, 
191 3,  also  translated  into  English  under  the  title  The  Quintessence  of 
Capitalism,  London,  1915),  to  which  I  shall  return  in  footnotes  below. 
Finally  (3)  Lujo  Brentano  in  Part  II  of  the  Appendix  to  his  Munich 
address  (in  the  Academy  of  Sciences,  191 3)  on  Die  Anfänge  des 
modernen  Kapitalismus,  which  was  published  in  191 6.  (Since  Weber's 
death  Brentano  has  somewhat  expanded  these  essays  and  incorporated 
them  into  his  recent  book  Der  wirtschaftende  Mensch  in  der  Geschichte. 
— Translator's  Note.)  I  shall  also  refer  to  this  criticism  in  special 
footnotes  in  the  proper  places.  I  invite  anyone  who  may  be  interested 
to  convince  himself  by  comparison  that  I  have  not  in  revision  left 
out,  changed  the  meaning  of,  weakened,  or  added  materially  different 
statements  to,  a  single  sentence  of  my  essay  which  contained  any 
essential  point.  There  was  no  occasion  to  do  so,  and  the  development 
of  my  exposition  will  convince  anyone  who  still  doubts.  The  two 
latter  writers  engaged  in  a  more  bitter  quarrel  with  each  other  than 
with  me.  Brentano's  criticism  of  Sombart 's  book,  Die  Juden  und  das 
Wirtschaftsleben,  I  consider  in  many  points  well  founded,  but  often 
very  unjust,  even  apart  from  the  fact  that  Brentano  does  not  himself 
seem  to  understand  the  real  essence  of  the  problem  of  the  Jews 
(which  is  entirely  omitted  from  this  essay,  but  will  be  dealt  with  later 
[in  a  later  section  of  the  Religionssoziologie. — Translator's  Note]). 

From  theologians  I  have  received  numerous  valuable  suggestions 
in  connection  with  this  study.  Its  reception  on  their  part  has  been 
in  general  friendly  and  impersonal,  in  spite  of  wide  differences  of 
opinion  on  particular  points.  This  is  the  more  welcome  to  me  since 
I  should  not  have  wondered  at  a  certain  antipathy  to  the  manner  in 
which  these  matters  must  necessarily  be  treated  here.  "What  to  a 
theologian  is  valuable  in  his  religion  cannot  play  a  very  large  part 
in  this  study.  We  are  concerned  with  what,  from  a  religious  point 
of  view,  are  often  quite  superficial  and  unrefined  aspects  of  relligious 
life,  but  which,  and  precisely  because  they  were  superficial  and 
unrefined,  have  often  influenced  outward  behaviour  most  profoundy. 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of   Capitalism 

Another  book  which,  besides  containing  many  other  things,  is  a 
very  welcome  confirmation  of  and  supplement  to  this  essay  in  so  far 
as  it  deals  with  our  problem,  is  the  important  work  of  E.  Troeltsch, 
Die  Soziallehren  der  christlichen  Kirchen  und  Gruppen  (Tübingen, 
1912).  It  deals  with  the  history  of  the  ethics  of  Western  Christianity 
from  a  very  comprehensive  point  of  view  of  its  own,  I  here  refer  the 
reader  toitfor  general  comparison  instead  of  makingrepeated  references 
to  special  points .  The  author  is  principally  concerned  with  the  doctrines 
of  religion,  while  I  am  interested  rather  in  their  practical  results. 

2.  The  exceptions  are  explained,  not  always,  but  frequently,  by 
the  fact  that  the  religious  leanings  of  the  labouring  force  of  an  industry 
are  naturally,  in  the  first  instance,  determined  by  those  of  the  locality 
in  which  che  industry  is  situated,  or  from  which  its  labour  is  drawn. 
This  circumstance  often  alters  the  impression  given  at  first  glance 
by  some  statistics  of  religious  adherence,  for  instance  in  the  Rhine 
provinces.  Furthermore,  figures  can  naturally  only  be  conclusive  if 
individual  specialized  occupations  are  carefully  distinguished  in  them. 
Otherwise  very  large  employers  may  sometimes  be  grouped  together 
with  master  craftsmen  who  work  alone,  under  the  category  of  "pro- 
prietors of  enterprises".  Above  all,  the  fully  developed  capitalism  of 
the  present  day,  especially  so  far  as  the  great  unskilted  lower  strata 
of  labour  are  concerned,  has  become  independent  of  any  influence 
which  religion  may  have  had  in  the  past.  I  shall  return  to  this  point. 

3.  Compare,  for  instance.  Schell,  Der  Katholizismus  als  Prinzip 
des  Fortschrittes  (Würzburg,  1897),  p.  31,  and  V.  Hertling,  Das 
Prinzip  des  Katholizismus  und  die  Wissenschaft  (Freiburg,  1899),  p.  58. 

4.  One  of  my  pupils  has  gone  through  what  is  at  this  time  the 
most  complete  statistical  material  we  possess  on  this  subject :  the 
religious  statistics  of  Baden.  See  Martin  Offenbacher,  "Konfession 
und  soziale  Schichtung",  Eine  Studie  über  die  wirtschaftliche  Lage 
der  Katholiken  und  Protestanten  i?i  Baden  (Tübingen  und  Leipzig, 
1901),  Vol.  IV,  part  V,  of  the  Volkswirtschaftliche  Abhandlungen  der 
badischen  Hochschulen.  The  facts  and  figures  which  are  used  for 
illustration  below  are  all  drawn  from  this  study. 

5.  For  instance,  in  1895  in  Baden  there  was  taxable  capital  available 
for  the  tax  on  returns  from  capital : 

Per  1,000  Protestants  .  .  .  .  .  .      954,000  marks 

Per  1,000  Catholics     '.  .  . .  .  .     589,000  marks 

It  is  true  that  the  Jews,  with  over  four  millions  per  1,000,  were  far 
ahead  of  the  rest.  (For  details  see  Offenbacher,  op.  cit.,  p.  21.) 

6.  On  this  point  compare  the  whole  discussion  in  Offenbacher's 

7.  On  this  point  also  Offenbacher  brings  forward  more  detailed 
evidence  for  Baden  in  his  first  two  chapters. 

8.  The  population  of  Baden  was  composed  in   1895  as  follows  : 


Protestants,  37*0  per  cent.;  Catholics,  61*3  per  cent.;  Jewish,  1*5  per 
cent.  The  students  of  schools  beyond  the  compulsory  public  school 
stage  were,  however,  divided  as  follows  (OfFenbacher,  p.  16): 




Gymnasien .  . 

Realgymnasien    .  . 

Oberrealschulen  .  . 


Höhere  Bürgerschulen    .  . 

Per  Cent. 


Per  Cent. 



Per  Cent. 







(In  the  Gymnasium  the  main  emphasis  is  on  the  classics.  In  the 
Realgymnasium  Greek  is  dropped  and  Latin  reduced  in  favour  of 
modern  languages,  mathematics  and  science.  The  Realschule  and  Ober- 
realschule  are  similar  to  the  latter  except  that  Latin  is  dropped  entirely 
in  favour  of  modern  languages.  See  G.  E.  Bolton,  The  Secondary 
School  System  in  Germany,  New  York,  1900. — Translator's  Note.) 

The  same  thing  may  be  observed  in  Prussia,  Bavaria,  Würtemberg, 
Alsace-Lorraine,  and  Hungary  (see  figures  in  Offenbacher,  pp.  16  ff.). 

9.  See  the  figures  in  the  preceding  note,  which  show  that  the 
Catholic  attendance  at  secondary  schools,  which  is  regularly  less 
than  the  Catholic  share  of  the  total  population  by  a  third,  only  exceeds 
this  by  a  few  per  cent,  in  the  case  of  the  grammar  schools  (mainly 
in  preparation  for  theological  studies).  With  reference  to  the  subse- 
quent discussion  it  may  further  be  noted  as  characteristic  that  in 
Hungary  those  affiliated  with  the  Reformed  Church  exceed  even  the 
average  Protestant  record  of  attendance  at  secondary  schools.  (See 
Offenbacher,  p.  19,  note.) 

10.  For  the  proofs  see  Offenbacher,  p.  54,  and  the  tables  at  the  end 
of  his  study. 

11.  Especially  well  illustrated  by  passages  in  the  works  of  Sir 
William  Petty,  to  be  referred  to  later. 

12.  Petty 's  reference  to  the  case  of  Ireland  is  very  simply  explained 
by  the  fact  that  the  Protestants  were  only  involved  in  the  capacity 
of  absentee  landlords.  If  he  had  meant  to  maintain  more  he  would 
have  been  wrong,  as  the  situation  of  the  Scotch-Irish  shows.  The 
typical  relationship  between  Protestantism  and  capitalism  existed  in 
Ireland  as  well  as  elsewhere.  (On  the  Scotch-Irish  see  C.  A.  Hanna, 
The  Scotch-Irish,  two  vols.;  Putnam,  New  York.) 

13.  This  is  not,  of  course,  to  deny  that  the  latter  facts  have  had 
exceedingly  important  consequences.  As  I  shall  show  later,  the  fact 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

that  many  Protestant  sects  were  small  and  hence  homogeneous 
minorities,  as  were  all  the  strict  Calvinists  outside  of  Geneva  and 
New  England,  even  where  they  were  in  possession  of  political  power, 
was  of  fundamental  significance  for  the  development  of  their  whole 
character,  including  their  manner  of  participation  in  economic  life. 
The  migration  of  exiles  of  all  the  religions  of  the  earth,  Indian, 
Arabian,  Chinese,  Syrian,  Phoenician,  Greek,  Lombard,  to  other 
countries  as  bearers  of  the  commercial  lore  of  highly  developed 
areas,  has  been  of  universal  occurrence  and  has  nothing  to  do  with 
our  problem.  Brentano,  in  the  essay  to  which  I  shall  often  refer,  Die 
Anfänge  des  modernen  Kapitalismus,  calls  to  witness  his  own  family. 
But  bankers  of  foreign  extraction  have  existed  at  all  times  and  in  all 
countries  as  the  representatives  of  commercial  experience  and  con- 
nections. They  are  not  peculiar  to  modem  capitalism,  and  were  looked 
upon  with  ethical  mistrust  by  the  Protestants  (see  below).  The  case 
of  the  Protestant  families,  such  as  the  Muralts,  Pestalozzi,  etc.,  who 
migrated  to  Zurich  from  Locarno,  was  different.  They  very  soon 
became  identified  with  a  specifically  modern  (industrial)  type  of 
capitalistic  development. 

14.  Offenbacher,  op.  cit.,  p.  58. 

15.  Unusually  good  observations  on  the  characteris'tic  peculiarities 
of  the  different  religions  in  Germany  and  France,  and  the  relation  of 
these  differences  to  other  cultural  elements  in  the  conflict  of  nation- 
alities in  Alsace  are  to  be  found  in  the  fine  study  of  W.  Wittich, 
"Deutsche  und  französische  Kultur  im  Elsass",  Illustrierte  Elsässische 
Rundschau  (1900,  also  published  separately). 

16.  This,  of  course,  was  true  only  when  some  possibility  of 
capitalistic  development  in  the  area  in  question  was  present. 

17.  On  this  point  see,  for  instance,  Dupin  de  St.  Andr6,  "L'ancienne 
^glise  röform^e  de  Tours.  Les  membres  de  I'^glise",  Bull,  de  la  soc. 
de  I' hist,  du  Protest.,  4,  p.  10.  Here  again  one  might,  especially  from 
the  Catholic  point  of  view,  look  upon  the  desire  for  emancipation 
from  monastic  or  ecclesiastical  control  as  the  dominant  motive.  But 
against  that  view  stands  not  only  the  judgment  of  contemporaries 
(including  Rabelais),* but  also,  for  instance,  the  qualms  of  conscience 
of  the  first  national  synods  of  the  Huguenots  (for  instance  ist  Synod, 
C.  partic.  qu.  10  in  Aymon,  Synod.  Nat.,  p.  10),  as  to  whether  a 
banker  might  become  an  elder  of  the  Church;  and  in  spite  of  Calvin's 
own  definite  stand,  the  repeated  discussions  in  the  same  bodies  of 
the  permissibility  of  taking  interest  occasioned  by  the  questions 
of  ultra-scrupulous  members.  It  is  partly  explained  by  the  number  of 
persons  having  a  direct  interest  in  the  question,  but  at  the  same  time 
the  wish  to  practise  usuraria  pravitas  without  the  necessity  of  con- 
fession could  not  have  been  alone  decisive.  The  same,  see  below,  is 
true  of  Holland.  Let  it  be  said  explicitly  that  the  prohibition  of 
interest  in  the  canon  law  will  play  no  part  in  this  investigation. 



i8.  Gothein,  Wirtschaftsgeschichte  des  Schwarzwaldes,  I,  p.  67. 

19.  In  connection  with  this  see  Sonabart's  brief  comments  {Der 
moderne  Kapitalismus,  first  edition,  p.  380).  Later,  under  the  influence 
of  a  study  of  F.  Keller  {Unternehmung  und  Mehrwert,  Publications 
of  the  Goerres-Gesellschaft,  XII),  which,  in  spite  of  many  good 
observations  (which  in  this  connection,  however,  are  not  new),  falls 
below  the  standard  of  other  recent  works  of  Catholic  apologetics, 
Sombart,  in  what  is  in  these  parts  in  my  opinion  by  far  the  weakest 
of  his  larger  works  {Der  Bourgeois),  has  unfortunately  maintained  a 
completely  untenable  thesis,  to  which  I  shall  refer  in  the  proper  place. 

20.  That  the-  simple  fact  of  a  change  of  residence  is  among  the 
most  effective  means  of  intensifying  labour  is  thoroughly  established 
(compare  note  13  above).  The  same  Polish  girl  who  at  home  was  not 
to  be  shaken  loose  from  her  traditional  laziness  by  any  chance  of 
earning  money,  however  tempting,  seems  to  change  her  entire  nature 
and  become  capable  of  unlimited  accomplishment  when  she  is  a 
migratory  worker  in  a  foreign  country.  The  same  is  true  of  migratory 
Italian  labourers.  That  this  is  by  no  means  entirely  explicable  in 
terms  of  the  educative  influence  of  the  entrance  into  a  higher  cultural 
environment,  although  this  naturally  plays  a  part,  is  shown  by  the 
fact  that  the  same  thing  happens  where  the  type  of  occupation,  as 
in  agricultural  labour,  is  exactly  the  same  as  at  home.  Furthermore, 
accommodation  in  labour  barracks,  etc.,  may  involve  a  degradation 
to  a  standard  of  living  which  would  never  be  tolerated  at  home.  The 
simple  fact  of  working  in  quite  different  surroundings  from  those  to 
which  one  is  accustomed  breaks  through  the  tradition  and  is  the 
educative  force.  It  is  hardly  necessary  to  remark  how  much  of 
American  economic  development  is  the  result  of  such  factors.  In 
ancient  times  the  similar  significance  of  the  Babylonian  exile  for  the 
Jews  is  very  striking,  and  the  same  is  true  of  the  Parsees.  But  for 
the  Protestants,  as  is  indicated  by  the  undeniable  difference  in  the 
economic  characteristics  of  the  Puritan  New  England  colonies  from 
Catholic  Maryland,  the  Episcopal  South,  and  mixed  Rhode  Island, 
the  influence  of  their  religious  belief  quite  evidently  plays  a  part  as 
an  independent  factor.  Similarly  in  India,  for  instance,  with  the  Jains, 

21.  It  is  well  known  in  most  of  its  forms  to  be  a  more  or  less 
moderated  Calvinism  or  Zwinglianism. 

22.  In  Hamburg,  which  is  almost  entirely  Lutheran,  the  only 
fortune  going  back  to  the  seventeenth  century  is  that  of  a  well-known 
Reformed  family  (kindly  called  to  my  attention  by  Professor  A.  Wahl). 

23.  It  is  thus  not  new  that  the  existence  of  this  relationship  is 
maintained  here.  Lavelye,  Matthew  Arnold,  and  others  already  per- 
ceived it.  What  is  new,  on  the  contrary,  is  the  quite  vmfounded 
denial  of  it.  Our  task  here  is  to  explain  the  relation. 

24.  Naturally  this  does  not  mean  that  official  Pietism,  like  other 
religious  tendencies,  did  not  at  a  later  date,  from  a  patriarchal  point 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

of  view,  oppose  certain  progressive  features  of  capitalistic  develop- 
ment, for  instance,  the  transition  from  domestic  industry  to  the 
factory  system.  What  a  religion  has  sought  after  as  an  ideal,  and 
what  the  actual  result  of  its  influence  on  the  lives  of  its  adherents 
has  been,  must  be  sharply  distinguished,  as  we  shall  often  see  in  the 
course  of  our  discussion.  On  the  specific  adaptation  of  Pietists  to 
industrial  labour,  I  have  given  examples  from  a  Westphalian  factory 
in  my  article,  "Zur  Psychophysik  der  gewerblichen  Arbeit",  Archiv 
für  Sozialwissenschaft  und  Sozialpolitik,  XXVIII,  and  at  various  other 


1 .  These  passages  represent  a  very  brief  summary  of  some  aspects 
of  Weber's  methodological  views.  At  about  the  same  time  that  he 
wrote  this  essay  he  was  engaged  in  a  thorough  criticism  and  re- 
valuation of  the  methods  of  the  Social  Sciences,  the  result  of  which 
was  a  point  of  view  in  many  ways  different  from  the  prevailing  one, 
especially  outside  of  Germany.  In  order  thoroughly  to  understand 
the  significance  of  this  essay  in  its  wider  bearings  on  Weber's  socio- 
logical work  as  a  whole  it  is  necessary  to  know  what  his  methodological 
aims  were.  Most  of  his  writings  on  this  subject  have  been  assembled 
since  his  death  (in  1920)  in  the  volume  Gesammelte  Aufsätze  zur 
Wissenschaftslehre .  A  shorter  exposition  of  the  main  position  is  con- 
tained in  the  opening  chapters  of  Wirtschaft  und  Gesellschaft,  Grundriss 
der  Sozialökonomik,  III. — Translator's  Note. 

2.  The  final  passage  is  from  Necessary  Hints  to  Those  That  Would 
Be  Rich  (written  1736,  W^orks,  Sparks  edition,  II,  p.  80),  the  rest 
from  Advice  to  a  Young  Tradesman  (written  1748,  Sparks  edition,  II, 
pp.  87  ff.).  The  italics  in  the  text  are  Franklin's. 

3.  Der  Amerikamüde  (Frankfurt,  1855),  well  knov^n  to  be  an 
imaginative  paraphrase  of  Lenau's  impressions  of  America.  As  a 
work  of  art  the  book  would  to-day  be  somewhat  diflBcult  to  enjoy, 
but  it  is  incomparable  as  a  document  of  the  (now  long  since  blurred- 
over)  differences  between  the  German  and  the  American  outlook, 
one  may  even  say  of  the  type  of  spiritual  life  which,  in  spite  of 
everything,  has  remained  common  to  all  Germans,  Catholic  and 
Protestant  alike,  since  the  German  mysticism  of  the  Middle  Ages, 
as  against  the  Puritan  capitalistic  valuation  of  action. 

4.  Sombart  has  used  this  quotation  as  a  motto  for  his  section 
dealing  with  the  genesis  of  capitalism  (Der  moderne  Kapitalismus, 
first  edition,  I,  p.  193.  See  also  p.  390). 

5 .  Which  quite  obviously  does  not  mean  either  that  Jacob  Fugger 
was  a  morally  indifferent  or  an  irreligious  man,  or  that  Benjamin 
Franklin's  ethic  is  completely  covered  by  the  above  quotations.  It 
scarcely  required  Brentano's  quotations  (Die  Anfänge  des  modernen 
Kapitalismus,  pp.  150  flF.)  to  protect  this  well-known  philanthropist 



from  the  misunderstanding  which  Brentano  seems  to  attribute  to 
me.  The  problem  is  just  the  reverse :  how  could  such  a  philanthropist 
come  to  write  these  particular  sentences  (the  especially  characteristic 
form  of  which  Brentano  has  neglected  to  reproduce)  in  the  manner  of 
a  moralist  ? 

6.  This  is  the  basis  of  our  difference  from  Sombart  in  stating  the 
problem.  Its  very  considerable  practical  significance  will  become  clear 
later.  In  anticipation,  however,  let  it  be  remarked  that  Sombart  has 
by  no  means  neglected  this  ethical  aspect  of  the  capitalistic  entre- 
preneur. But  in  his  view  of  the  problem  it  appears  as  a  result  of 
capitalism,  whereas  for  our  purposes  we  must  assume  the  opposite 
as  an  hypothesis.  A  final  position  can  only  be  taken  up  at  the  end 
of  the  investigation.  For  Sombart's  view  see  op.  cit.,  pp.  357,  380, 
etc.  His  reasoning  here  connects  with  the  brilliant  analysis  given  in 
Simmel's  Philosophie  des  Geldes  (final  chapter).  Of  the  polemics 
which  he  has  brought  forward  against  me  in  his  Bourgeois  I  shall  come 
to  speak  later.  At  this  point  any  thorough  discussion  must  be  postponed . 

7.  "I  grew  convinced  that  truth,  sincerity,  and  integrity  in  dealings 
between  man  and  man  were  of  the  utmost  importance  to  the  felicity 
of  life;  and  I  formed  written  resolutions,  which  still  remain  in  my 
journal  book  to  practise  them  ever  while  I  lived.  Revelation  had 
indeed  no  weight  with  me  as  such;  but  I  entertained  an  opinion  that, 
though  certain  actions  might  not  be  bad  because  they  were  forbidden 
by  it,  or  good  because  it  commanded  them,  yet  probably  these 
actions  might  be  forbidden  because  they  were  bad  for  us,  or  com- 
manded because  they  were  beneficial  to  us  in  their  own  nature,  all 
the  circumstances  of  things  considered."  Autobiography  (ed.  F.  W. 
Pine,  Henry  Holt,  New  York,  1916),  p.  112. 

8.  "I  therefore  put  myself  as  much  as  I  could  out  of  sight  and 
started  it" — that  is  the  project  of  a  library  which  he  had  initiated — 
"as  a  scheme  of  a  number  of  friends,  who  had  requested  me  to  go 
about  and  propose  it  to  such  as  they  thought  lovers  of  reading.  In 
this  way  my  affair  went  on  smoothly,  and  I  ever  after  practised  it 
on  such  occasions;  and  from  my  frequent  successes,  can  heartily 
recommend  it.  The  present  little  sacrifice  of  your  vanity  will  after- 
wards be  amply  repaid.  If  it  remains  awhile  uncertain  to  whom  the 
merit  belongs,  someone  more  vain  than  yourself  will  be  encouraged 
to  claim  it,  and  then  even  envy  will  be  disposed  to  do  you  justice  by 
plucking  those  assumed  feathers  and  restoring  them  to  their  right 
owner."  Autobiography,  p.  140. 

9.  Brentano  {op.  cit.,  pp.  125,  127,  note  i)  takes  this  remark  as 
an  occasion  to  criticize  the  later  discussion  of  "that  rationalization  and 
discipline"  to  which  worldly  asceticism^  has  subjected  men.  That, 

^  This  seemingly  paradoxical  term  has  been  the  best  translation 
I  could  find  for  Weber's  innerweltliche  Askese,  which  means  asceticism 

The   Protestant   Ethic    and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

he  says,  is  a  rationalization  toward  an  irrational  mode  of  life.  He  is, 
in  fact,  quite  correct.  A  thing  is  never  irrational  in  itself,  but  only 
from  a  particular  rational  point  of  view.  For  the  unbeliever  every 
religious  way  of  life  is  irrational,  for  the  hedonist  every  ascetic 
standard,  no  matter  whether,  measured  with  respect  to  its  particular 
basic  values,  that  opposing  asceticism  is  a  rationalization.  If  this  essay 
makes  any  contribution  at  all,  may  it  be  to  bring  out  the  complexity 
of  the  only  superficially  simple  concept  of  the  rational. 

10.  In  reply  to  Brentano 's  {Die  Anfäfige  des  modernen  Kapitalismus, 
pp.  150  ff.)  long  and  somewhat  inaccurate  apologia  for  Franklin, 
whose  ethical  qualities  I  am  supposed  to  have  misunderstood,  I  refer 
only  to  this  statement,  which  should,  in  my  opinion,  have  been 
sufficient  to  make  that  apologia  superfluous. 

11.  The  two  terms  profession  and  calling  I  have  used  in  trans- 
lation of  the  German  Beruf,  whichever  seemed  best  to  fit  the  particular 
context.  Vocation  does  npt  carry  the  ethical  connotation  in  which 
Weber  is  interested.  It  is  especially  to  be  remembered  that  profession 
in  this  sense  is  not  contrasted  with  business,  but  it  refers  to  a  par- 
ticular attitude  toward  one's  occupation,  no  matter  what  that  occupa- 
tion may  be.  This  should  become  abundantly  clear  from  the  whole 
of  Weber's  argument. — Translator's  Note. 

12.  I  make  use  of  this  opportunity  to  insert  a  few  anti-critical 
remarks  in  advance  of  the  main  argument.  Sombart  (Bourgeois) 
makes  the  untenable  statement  that  this  ethic  of  Franklin  is  a  word- 
for-word  repetition  of  some  writings  of  that  great  and  versatile  genius 
of  the  Renaissance,  Leon  Battista  Alberti,  who  besides  theoretical 
treatises  on  Mathematics,  Sculpture,  Painting,  Architecture,  and 
Love  (he  was  personally  a  woman-hater),  wrote  a  work  in  four  books 
on  household  management  (Delia  Famiglia).  (Unfortunately,  I  have 
not  at  the  time  of  writing  been  able  to  procure  the  edition  of  Mancini, 
but  only  the  older  one  of  Bonucci.)  The  passage  from  Franklin  is 
printed  above  word  for  word.  Where  then  are  corresponding  passages 
to  be  found  in  Alberti 's  work,  especially  the  maxim  "time  is  money", 
which  stands  at  the  head,  and  the  exhortations  which  follow  it?  The 
only  passage  which,  so  far  as  I  know,  bears  the  slightest  resemblance 
to  it  is  found  towards  the  end  of  the  first  book  of  Delia  Famiglia 
(ed.  Bonucci,  II,  p.  353),  where  Alberti  speaks  in  very  general  terms 
of  money  as  the  nervus  rerum  of  the  household,  which  must  hence 

practised  within  the  world  as  contrasted  with  ausserweltliche  Askese, 
which  withdraws  from  the  world  (for  instance  into  a  monastery).  Their 
precise  meaning  will  appear  in  the  course  of  Weber's  discussion.  It 
is  one  of  the  prime  points  of  his  essay  that  asceticism  does  not  need 
to  flee  from  the  world  to  be  ascetic.  I  shall  consistently  employ  the 
terms  worldly  and  otherworldly  to  denote  the  contrast  between  the 
two  kinds  of  asceticism. — Translator's  Note. 


be  handled  with  special  care,  just  as  Cato  spoke  in  De  Re  Rustica. 
To  treat  Alberti,  who  was  very  proud  of  his  descent  from  one  of 
the   most   distinguished    cavalier    families  of    Florence  (Nobilissimi 
Cavalieri,-  op.  cit.,  pp.  213,  228,  247,  etc.),  as  a  man  of  mongrel  blood 
who  was  filled  with  envy  for  the  noble  families  because  his  illegitimate 
birth,  which  was  not  in  the  least  socially  disqualifying,  excluded 
him  as  a  bourgeois  from  association  with  the  nobility,  is  quite  in- 
correct. It  is  true  that  the  recommendation  of  large  enterprises  as 
alone  worthy  of  a  nobile  e  onesta  famiglia  and  a  libero  e  nobile  animo, 
and  as  costing  less  labour  is  characteristic  of  Alberti  (p.  209 ;  compare 
Del  governo  della  Famiglia,  IV,  p.  55,  as  well  as  p.  116  in  the  edition 
for  the  Pandolfini).  Hence  the  best  thing  is  a  putting-out  business 
for  wool  and  silk.  Also  an  ordered  and  painstaking  regulation  of  his 
household,  i.e.  the  limiting  of  expenditure  to  income.  This  is  the 
santa  masserizia,  which  is  thus  primarily  a  principle  of  maintenance, 
a  given  standard  of  life,  and  not  of  acquisition  (as  no  one  should  have 
understood  better  than  Sombart).  Similarly,  in  the  discussion  of  the 
nature  of  money,  his  concern  is  with  the  management  of  consumption 
funds  (money  or /)055e55Jom'),  not  with  that  of  capital ;  all  that  is  clear 
from  the  expression  of  it  which  is  put  into  the  mouth  of  Gianozzo. 
He  recommends,  as  protection  against  the  uncertainty  of  for  tuna, 
early  habituation  to  continuous  activity,  which  is  also  (pp.  73-4) 
alone  healthy  in  the  long  run,  in  cose  niagnifiche  e  ample,  and  avoidance 
of  laziness,  which  always  endangers  the  maintenance  of  one's  position 
in  the  world.  Hence  a  careful  study  of  a  suitable  trade  in  case  of  a 
change  of  fortune,  but  every  opera  mercenaria  is  unsuitable  {op.  cit., 
I,  p.  209).  His  idea  of  tranquillita  dell'  animo  and  his  strong  tendency 
toward  the  Epicurean  Xdds  ßiiboa;  (vivere  a  shstesso,  p.  262) ;  especially 
his  dislike  of  any  office  (p.  258)  as  a  source  of  unrest,  of  making 
enemies,  and  of  becoming  involved  in  dishonourable  dealings;  the 
ideal  of  life  in  a  country  villa;  his  nourishment  of  vanity  through 
the  thought  of  his  ancestors ;  and  his  treatment  of  the  honour  of  the 
family  (which  on  that  account  should  keep  its  fortune  together  in  the 
Florentine  manner  and  not  divide  it  up)  as  a  decisive  standard  and 
ideal — all  these  things  would  in  the  eyes  of  every  Puritan  have  been 
sinful  idolatry  of  the  flesh,  and  in  those  of  Benjamin  Franklin  the 
expression  of  incomprehensible  aristocratic  nonsense.  Note,  further, 
the  very  high  opinion  of  literary  things  (for  the  industria  is  applied 
principally  to  literary  and   scientific  work),  which  is   really  most 
worthy  of  a  man's  efforts.  And  the  expression  of  the  masserizia,  in 
the  sense  of  "rational  conduct  of  the  household"  as  the  means  of 
living  independently  of  others  and  avoiding  destitution,  is  in  general 
put  only  in  the  mouth  of  the  illiterate  Gianozzo  as  of  equal  value. 
Thus  the  origin  of  this  concept,  which  comes  (see  below)  from  monastic 
ethics,  is  traced  back  to  an  old  priest  (p.  249). 

Now  compare  all  this  with  the  ethic  and  manner  of  life  of  Benjamin 

The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

Franklin,  and  especially  of  his  Puritan  ancestors;  the  works  of  the 
Renaissance  litterateur  addressing   himself  to   the  humanistic  aris- 
tocracy, with  Franklin's  works  addressed  to  the  masses  of  the  lower 
middle  class  (he  especially  mentions  clerks)  and  with  the  tracts  and 
sermons  of  the  Puritans,  in  order  to  comprehend  the  depth  of  the 
difference .  The  economic  rationalism  of  Alberti ,  everywhere  supported 
by  references  to  ancient  authors,  is  most  clearly  related  to  the  treat- 
ment of  economic  problems  in  the  works  of  Xenophon  (whom  he 
did  not  know),  of  Cato,  Varro,  and  Columella  (all  of  whom  he  quotes), 
except  that  especially  in  Cato  and  Varro,  acquisition  as  such  stands 
in  the  foreground  in  a  different  way  from  that  to  be  found  in  Alberti. 
Furthermore,  the  very  occasional  comments  of  Alberti  on  the  use  of 
t\\e.  fattori,  their  division  of  labour  and  discipline,  on  the  unreliability 
of  the  peasants,  etc.,  really  sound  as  if  Cato's  homely  wisdom  were 
taken  from  the  field  of  the  ancient  slave-using  household  and  applied 
to  that  of  free  labour  in  domestic  industry  and  the  metayer  system. 
When  Sombart  (whose  reference  to  the   Stoic  ethic  is  quite  mis- 
leading)  sees   economic   rationalism   as   "developed   to   its   farthest 
conclusions"  as  early  as  Cato,  he  is,  with  a  correct  interpretation,  not 
entirely  wrong.  It  is  possible  to  unite  the  diligens  pater  familias  of 
the  Romans  with  the  ideal  of  the  massajo  of  Alberti  under  the  same 
category.  It  is  above  all  characteristic  for  Cato  that  a  landed  estate 
is  valued  and  judged  as  an  object  for  the  investment  of  consumption 
funds.  The  concept  of  industria,  on  the  other  hand,  is  differently 
coloured  on  account  of  Christian  influence.  And  there  is  just  the 
difference.  In  the  conception  of  industria,  which  comes  from  monastic 
asceticism  and  which  was  developed  by  monastic  writers,  lies  the 
seed  of  an  ethos  which  was  fully  developed  later  in  the  Protestant 
worldly  asceticism.  Hence,  as  we  shall  often  point  out,  the  relationship 
of  the  two,  which,  however,  is  less  close  to  the  official  Church  doctrine 
of  St.  Thomas   than   to   the   Florentire   and   Siennese  mendicant- 
moralists.  In  Cato  and  also  in  Alberti 's  own  writings  this  ethos  is 
lacking;  for  both  it  is  a  matter  of  worldly  wisdom,  not  of  ethic.  In 
Franklin  there  is  also  a  utilitarian  strain.  But  the  ethical  quality  of 
the  sermon  to  young  business  men  is  impossible  to  mistake,  and 
that  is  the  characteristic  thing.  A  lack  of  care  in  the  handling  of 
money  means  to  him  that  one  so  to  speak  murders  capital  embryos, 
and  hence  it  is  an  ethical  defect. 

An  inner  relationship  of  the  two  (Alberti  and  Franklin)  exists  in 
fact  only  in  so  far  as  Alberti,  whom  Sombart  calls  pious,  but  who 
actually,  although  he  took  the  sacraments  and  held  a  Roman  benefice, 
like  so  many  humanists,  did  not  himself  (except  for  two  quite  colourless 
passages)  in  any  way  make  use  of  religious  motives  as  a  justification 
of  the  manner  of  life  he  recommended,  had  not  yet,  Franklin  on  the 
other  hand  no  longer,  related  his  recommendation  of  economy  to 
religious   conceptions.    Utilitarianism,  in   Alberti's    preference   for 




wool  and  silk  manufacture,  also  the  mercantilist  social  utilitarianism 
"that  many  people  should  be  given  employment"  (see  Alberti,  op. 
cit.,  p.  292),  is  in  this  field  at  least  formally  the  sole  justification  for 
the  one  as  for  the  other.  Alberti 's  discussions  of  this  subject  form  an 
excellent  example  of  the  sort  of  economic  rationalism  which  really 
existed  as  a  reflection  of  economic  conditions,  in  the  work  of  authors 
interested  purely  in  "the  thing  for  its  own  sake"  everywhere  and  at 
all  times ;  in  the  Chinese  classicism  and  in  Greece  and  Rome  no  less 
than  in  the  Renaissance  and  the  age  of  the-.Enlightenment.  There  is 
no  doubt  that  just  as  in  ancient  times  with  Cato,  Varro,  and  Columella, 
also  here  with  Alberti  and  others  of  the  same  type,  especially  in  the 
doctrine  of  industria,  a  sort  of  economic  rationality  is  highly  developed. 
But  how  can  anyone  believe  that  such  a  literary  theory  could  develop 
into  a  revolutionary  force  at  all  comparable  to  the  way  in  which  a 
religious  belief  was  able  to  set  the  sanctions  of  salvation  and  damnation 
on  the  fulfillment  of  a  particular  (in  this  case  methodically  rationalized) 
manner  of  life?  What,  as  compared  with  it,  a  really  religiously 
oriented  rationalization  of  conduct  looks  like,  may  be  seen,  outside 
of  the  Puritans  of  all  denominations,  in  the  cases  of  the  Jains,  the 
Jews,  certain  ascetic  sects  of  the  Middle  Ages,  the  Bohemian  Brothers 
(an  offshoot  of  the  Hussite  movement),  the  Skoptsi  and  Stundists  in 
Russia,  and  numerous  monastic  orders,  however  much  all  these  may 
differ  from  each  other. 

The  essential  point  of  the  difference  is  (to  anticipate)  that  an  ethic 
based  on  religion  places  certain  psychological  sanctions  (not  of  an 
economic  character)  on  the  maintenance  of  the  attitude  prescribed 
by  it,  sanctions  which,  so  long  as  the  religious  belief  remains  alive, 
are  highly  effective,  and  which  mere  worldly  wisdom  like  that  of 
Alberti  does  not  have  at  its  disposal.  Only  in  so  far  as  these  sanctions 
work,  and,  above  all,  in  the  direction  in  which  they  work,  which  is 
often  very  different  from  the  doctrine  of  the  theologians,  does  such 
an  ethic  gain  an  independent  influence  on  the  conduct  of  life  and 
thus  on  the  economic  order.  This  is,  to  speak  frankly,  the  point  of  this 
whole  essay,  which  I  had  not  expected  to  find  so  completely  overlooked. 

Later  on  I  shall  come  to  speak  of  the  theological  moralists  of  the 
late  Middle  Ages,  who  were  relatively  friendly  to  capital  (especially 
Anthony  of  Florence  and  Bernhard  of  Siena),  and  whom  Sombart 
has  also  seriously  misinterpreted.  In  any  case  Alberti  did  not  belong 
to  that  group.  Only  the  concept  of  industria  did  he  take  from  monastic 
lines  of  thought,  no  matter  through  what  intermediate  links.  Alberti, 
Pandolfini,  and  their  kind  are  representatives  of  that  attitude  which, 
in  spite  of  all  its  outward  obedience,  was  inwardly  already  enianci- 
pated  from  the  tradition  of  the  Church.  With  all  its  resemblance  to 
the  current  Christian  ethic,  it  was  to  a  large  extent  of  the  antique 
pagan  character,  which  Brentano  thinks  I  have  ignored  in  its 
significance  for  the  development  of  modern  economic  thought  (and 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

also  modern  economic  policy).  That  I  do  not  deal  with  its  influence 
here  is  quite  true.  It  would  be  out  of  place  in  a  study  of  the  Protestant 
ethic  and  the  spirit  of  capitalism.  But,  as  will  appear  in  a  different 
connection,  far  from  denying  its  significance,  I  have  been  and  am 
for  good  reasons  of  the  opinion  that  its  sphere  and  direction  of 
influence  were  entirely  different  from  those  of  the  Protestant  ethic 
(of  which  the  spiritual  ancestry,  of  no  small  practical  importance,  lies 
in  the  sects  and  in  the  ethics  of  Wyclif  and  Hus).  It  was  not  the  mode 
of  life  of  the  rising  bourgeoisie  which  was  influenced  by  this  other 
attitude,  but  the  policy  of  statesmen  and  princes;  and  these  two 
partly,  but  by  no  means  always,  convergent  lines  of  development 
should  for  purposes  of  analysis  be  kept  perfectly  distinct.  So  far  as 
Franklin  is  concerned,  his  tracts  of  advice  to  business  men,  at  present 
used  for  school  reading  in  America,  belong  in  fact  to  a  category  of 
works  which  have  influenced  practical  life,  far  more  than  Alberti's 
large  book,  which  hardly  became  known  outside  of  learned  circles. 
But  I  have  expressly  denoted  him  as  a  man  who  stood  beyond  the 
direct  influence  of  the  Puritan  view  of  life,  which  had  paled  con- 
siderably in  the  meantime,  just  as  the  whole  English  enlightenment, 
the  relations  of  which  to  Puritanism  have  often  been  set  forth. 

13.  Unfortunately  Brentano  {op.  cit.)  has  throvvn  every  kind  of 
struggle  for  gain,  whether  peaceful  or  warlike,  into  one  pot,  and  has 
then  set  up  as  the  specific  criterion  of  capitalistic  (as  contrasted,  for 
instance,  with  feudal)  profit-seeking,  its  acquisitiveness  of  money 
(instead  of  land).  Any  further  differentiation,  which  alone  could  lead 
to  a  clear  conception,  he  has  not  only  refused  to  make,  but  has  made 
against  the  concept  of  the  spirit  of  (modern)  capitalism  which  we  have 
formed  for  our  purposes,  the  (to  me)  incomprehensible  objection  that 
it  already  includes  in  its  assumptions  what  is  supposed  to  be  proved. 

14.  Compare  the,  in  every  respect,  excellent  observations  of  Som- 
bart,  Die  deutsche  Volkswirtschaft  im  igten  Jahrhundert,  p.  123.  In 
general  I  do  not  need  specially  to  point  out,  although  the  following 
studies  go  back  in  their  most  important  points  of  view  to  much  older 
work,  how  much  they  owe  in  their  development  to  the  mere  existence 
of  Sombart's  important  works,  with  their  pointed  formulations 
and  this  even,  perhaps  especially,  where  they  take  a  different  road. 
Even  those  who  feel  themselves  continually  and  decisively  disagreeing 
with  Sombart's  views,  and  who  reject  many  of  his  theses,  have  the 
duty  to  do  so  only  after  a  thorough  study  of  his  work. 

15.  Of  course  we  cannot  here  enter  into  the  question  of  where  these 
limits  lie,  nor  can  we  evaluate  the  familiar  theory  of  the  relation 
between  high  wages  and  the  high  productivity  of  labour  which  was 
first  suggested  by  Brassey,  formulated  and  maintained  theoretically 
by  Brentano,  and  both  historically  and  theoretically  by  Schulze- 
Gaevemitz.  The  discussion  was  again  opened  by  Hasbach's  pene- 
trating studies  {Schmollers  Jahrbuch,  1903,  pp.  385-91  and  417  ff.), 



and  is  not  yet  finally  settled.  For  us  it  is  here  sufficient  to  assent  to 
the  fact  which  is  not,  and  cannot  be,  doubted  by  anyone,  that  low 
wages  and  high  profits,  low  wages  and  favourable  opportunities  for 
industrial.development,  are  at  least  not  simply  identical,  that  generally 
speaking  training  for  capitalistic  culture,  and  with  it  the  possibility  of 
capitalism  as  an  economic  system,  are  not  brought  about  simply  through 
mechanical  financial  operations.  All  examples  are  purely  illustrative, 

1 6.  It  must  be  remembered  that  this  was  written  twenty-five 
years  ago,  when  the  above  statement  was  by  no  means  the  common- 
place that  it  is  now,  even  among  economists,  to  say  nothing  of 
business  men. — Translator's  Note. 

17.  The  establishment  even  of  capitalistic  industries  has  hence 
often  not  been  possible  without  large  migratory  movements  from 
areas  of  older  culture.  However  correct  Sombart's  remarks  on  the 
difference  between  the  personal  skill  and  trade  secrets  of  the  handi- 
craftsman and  the  scientific,  objective  modern  technique  may  be,  at 
the  time  of  the  rise  of  capitalism  the  difference  hardly  existed.  In 
fact  the,  so  to  speak,  ethical  qualities  of  the  capitalistic  workman  (and 
to  a  certain  extent  also  of  the  entrepreneur)  often  had  a  higher  scarcity 
value  than  the  skill  of  the  craftsman,  crystallized  in  traditions  hundreds 
of  years  old.  And  even  present-day  industry  is  not  yet  by  any  means 
entirely  independent  in  its  choice  of  location  of  such  qualities  of 
the  population,  acquired  by  long-standing  tradition  and  education  in 
intensive  labour.  It  is  congenial  to  the  scientific  prejudices  of  to-day, 
when  such  a  dependence  is  observed  to  ascribe  it  to  congenital  racial 
qualities  rather  than  to  tradition  and  education,  in  my  opinion  with 
very  doubtful  validity. 

18.  See  my  "Zur  Psychophysik  der  gewerblichen  Arbeit",  Archiv 
für  Sozialwissenschaft  und  Sozialpolitik,  XXVIII. 

19.  The  foregoing  observations  might  be  misunderstood.  The 
tendency  of  a  well-known  type  of  business  man  to  use  the  belief 
that  "religion  must  be  maintained  for  the  people"  for  his  own 
purpose,  and  the  earlier  not  uncommon  willingness  of  large  numbers, 
especially  of  the  Lutheran  clergy,  from  a  general  sympathy  with 
authority,  to  offer  themselves  as  black  police  when  they  wished  to 
brand  the  strike  as  sin  and  trade  unions  as  furtherers  of  cupidity,  all 
these  are  things  with  which  our  present  problem  has  nothing  to  do. 
The  factors  discussed  in  the  text  do  not  concern  occasional  but 
very  common  facts,  which,  as  we  shall  see,  continually  recur  in  a 
typical  manner. 

20.  Der  moderne  Kapitalismus,  first  edition,  I,  p.  62. 

21.  Ibid.,  p.  195. 

22.  Naturally  that  of  the  modern  rational  enterprise  peculiar  to 
the  Occident,  not  of  the  sort  of  capitalism  spread  over  the  world  for 
three  thousand  years,  from  China,  India,  Babylon,  Greece,  Rome, 
Florence,  to  the  present,  carried  on  by  usurers,  military  contractors 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

traders  in  offices,  tax-farmers,  large  merchants,  and  financial  mag- 
nates. See  the  Introduction. 

23.  The  assumption  is  thus  by  no  means  justified  a  priori,  that  is 
all  I  wish  to  bring  out  here,  that  on  the  one  hand  the  technique  of 
the  capitalistic  enterprise,  and  on  the  other  the  spirit  of  professional 
work  which  gives  to  capitalism  its  expansive  energy,  must  have  had 
their  original  roots  in  the  same  social  classes.  Similarly  with  the  social 
relationships  of  religious  beliefs.  Calvinism  was  historically  one  of 
the  agents  of  education  in  the  spirit  of  capitalism.  But  in  the  Nether- 
lands, the  large  moneyed  interests  were,  for  reasons  which  will  be 
discussed  later,  not  predominately  adherents  of  strict  Calvinism,  but 
Arminians.  The  rising  middle  and  small  bourgeoisie,  from  which 
entrepreneurs  were  principally  recruited,  were  for  the  most  part 
here  and  elsewhere  typical  representatives  both  of  capitalistic  ethics 
and  of  Calvinistic  religion.  But  that  fits  in  very  well  with  our  present 
thesis:  there  were  at  all  times  large  bankers  and  merchants.  But  a 
rational  capitalistic  organization  of  industrial  labour  was  never  known 
until  the  transition  from  the  Middle  Ages  to  modern  times  took  place. 

24.  On  this  point  see  the  good  Zurich  dissertation  of  J.  Maliniak 


25.  The  following  picture  has  been  put  together  as  an  ideal  type 
from  conditions  found  in  different  industrial  branches  and  at  different 
places.  For  the  purposes  of  illustration  which  it  here  serves,  it  is  of 
course  of  no  consequence  that  the  process  has  not  in  any  one  of  the 
examples  we  have  in  mind  taken  place  in  precisely  the  manner  we 
have  described. 

26.  For  this  reason,  among  others,  it  is  not  by  chance  that  this 
first  period  of  incipient  (economic)  rationalism  in  German  industry 
was  accompanied  by  certain  other  phenomena,  for  instance  the 
catastrophic  degradation  of  taste  in  the  style  of  articles  of  everyday  use . 

27.  This  is  not  to  be  understood  as  a  claim  that  changes  in  the 
supply  of  the  precious  metals  are  of  no  economic  importance. 

28.  This  is  only  meant  to  refer  to  the  type  of  entrepreneur  (busmess 
man)  whom  we  are  making  the  object  of  our  study,  not  any  empirical 
average  type.  On  the  concept  of  the  ideal  type  see  my  discussion  in 
the  Archiv  für  Sozialwissenschaft  und  Sozialpolitik,  XIX,  No.  i. 
(Republished  since  Weber's  death  in  the  Gesammelte  Aufsätze  zur 
Wissenschaftslehre .  The  concept  was  first  thoroughly  developed  by 
Weber  himself  in  these  essays,  and  is  likely  to  be  unfamiliar  to  non- 
German  reader-;.  It  is  one  of  the  most  important  aspects  of  Weber's 
methodological  work, referred  toin  a  noteabove. — Translator's  Note.) 

29.  This  is  perhaps  the  most  appropriate  place  to  make  a  few 
remarks  concerning  the  essay  of  F.  Keller,  already  referred  to 
(volume  12  of  the  publications  of  the  Görres-Gesellschaft),  and 
Sombart's  observations  {Der  Bourgeois)  in  following  it  up,  so  far  as 
they  are   relevant   in   the   present   context.   That  an  author  should 



criticize  a  study  in  which  the  canonical  prohibition  of  interest  (except 
in  one  incidental  remark  which  has  no  connection  with  the  general 
argument)  is  not  even  mentioned,  on  the  assumption  that  this  pro- 
hibition of  interest,  which  has  a  parallel  in  almost  every  religious 
ethic  in  the  world,  is  taken  to  be  the  decisive  criterion  of  the  difference 
between  the  Catholic  and  Protestant  ethics,  is  almost  inconceivable. 
One  should  really  only  criticize  things  which  one  has  read,  or  the  argu- 
ment of  which,  if  read,  one  has  not  already  forgotten.  The  campaign 
against  usurarta  pravitas  runs  through  both  the  Huguenot  and  the 
Dutch  Church  history  of  the  sixteenth  century;  Lombards,  i.e. 
bankers,  were  by  virtue  of  that  fact  alone  often  excluded  from  com- 
munion fsee  Chap.  I,  note  17).  The  more  liberal  attitude  of  Calvin 
(which  did  not,  however,  prevent  the  inclusion  of  regulations  against 
usury  in  the  first  plan  of  the  ordinances)  did  not  gain  a  definite 
victory  until  Salmasius.  Hence  the  difference  did  not  lie  at  this 
point ;  quite  the  contrary.  But  still  worse  are  the  author's  own  argu- 
ments on  this  point.  Compared  to  the  works  of  Funck  and  other 
Catholic  scholars  (whjch  he  has  not,  in  my  opinion,  taken  as  fully 
into  consideration  as  they  desers'e),  and  the  investigations  of  Ende- 
mann, which,  however  obsolete  in  certain  points  to-day,  are  still 
fundamental,  they  make  a  painful  impression  of  superficiality.  To  be 
sure ,  Keller  has  abstained  from  such  excesses  as  the  remarks  of  Som- 
bart  (Der  Bourgeois,  p.  321)  that  one  noticed  how  the  "pious  gentle- 
men" (Bernard  of  Siena  and  Anthony  of  Florence)  "wished  to  excite 
the  spirit  of  enterprise  by  every  possible  means",  that  is,  since  they, 
just  like  nearly  everyone  else  concerned  with  the  prohibition  of 
interest,  interpreted  it  in  such  a  way  as  to  exempt  what  we  should 
call  the  productive  investment  of  capital.  That  Sombart,  on  the  one 
hand,  places  the  Romans  among  the  heroic  peoples,  and  on  the 
other,  what  is  for  his  work  as  a  whole  an  impossible  contradiction, 
considers  economic  rationalism  to  have  been  developed  to  its  final 
consequences  in  Cato  (p.  267),  may  be  mentioned  by  the  way  as  a 
symptom  that  this  is  a  book  with  a  thesis  in  the  worst  sense. 

He  has  also  completely  misrepresented  the  significance  of  the 
prohibition  of  interest.  This  cannot  be  set  forth  here  in  detail.  At 
one  time  it  was  often  exaggerated,  then  strongly  underestimated,  and 
now,  in  an  era  which  produces  Catholic  millionaires  as  well  as 
Protestant,  has  been  turned  upside  down  for  apologetic  purposes. 
As  is  well  known,  it  was  not,  in  spite  of  Biblical  authority,  abolished 
until  the  last  century  by  order  of  the  Congregatio  S.  Officii,  and  then 
only  temporum  ratione  habita  and  indirectly,  namely,  by  forbidding 
confessors  to  worry  their  charges  by  questions  about  usur aria  pravitas, 
even  though  no  claim  to  obedience  was  given  up  in  case  it  should 
be  restored.  Anyone  who  has  made  a  thorough  study  of  the  extremely 
complicated  history  of  the  doctrine  cannot  claim,  considering  the 
endless   controversies    over,   for    instance,   the  justification   of    the 

p  201 

The   Protestafit   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

purchase  of  bonds,  the  discounting  of  notes  and  various  other  contracts 
(and  above  all  considering  the  order  of  the  Congregatio  S.  Officii^ 
mentioned  above,  concerning  a  municipal  loan),  that  the  prohibition 
of  interest  was  only  intended  to  apply  to  emergency  loans,  nor  that 
it  had  the  intention  of  preserving  capital,  or  that  it  was  even  an  aid 
to  capitalistic  enterprise  (p.  25).  The  truth  is  that  the  Church  came 
to  reconsider  the  prohibition  of  interest  comparatively  late.  At  the 
time  when  this  happened  the  forms  of  purely  business  investment 
were  not  loans  at  fixed  interest  rate,  but  th&fcenus  nauticum,  commenda, 
societas  maris,  and  the  dare  ad  proficuum  de  mart  (a  loan  in  which  the 
shares  of  gain  and  loss  were  adjusted  according  to  degrees  of  risk), 
and  were,  considering  the  character  of  the  return  on  loans  to  pro- 
ductive enterprise,  necessarily  of  that  sort.  These  were  not  (or  only 
according  to  a  few  rigorous  canonists)  held  to  fall  under  the  ban, 
but  when  investment  at  a  definite  rate  of  interest  and  discounting 
became  possible  and  customary,  the  first  sort  of  loans  also  encountered 
very  troublesome  difficulties  from  the  prohibition,  which  led  to  various 
drastic  measures  of  the  merchant  guilds  (black  lists).  But  the  treat- 
ment of  usury  on  the  pari  of  the  canonists  was  generally  purely  legal 
and  formal,  and  was  certainly  free  from  any  such  tendency  to  protect 
capital  as  Keller  ascribes  to  it.  Finally,  in  so  far  as  any  attitude  towards 
capitalism  as  such  can  be  ascertained,  the  decisive  factors  were:  on 
the  one  hand,  a  traditional,  mostly  inarticulate  hostility  towards  the 
growing  power  of  capital  which  was  impersonal,  and  hence  not 
readily  amenable  to  ethical  control  (as  it  is  still  reflected  in  Luther's 
pronouncements  about  the  Fuggers  and  about  the  banking  business) ; 
on  the  other  hand,  the  necessity  of  accommodation  to  practical  needs. 
But  we  cannot  discuss  this,  for,  as  has  been  said,  the  prohibition  of 
usury  and  its  fate  can  have  at  most  a  symptomatic  significance  for 
us,  and  that  only  to  a  limited  degree. 

The  economic  ethic  of  the  Scotists,  and  especially  of  certain 
mendicant  theologians  of  the  fourteenth  century,  above  all  Bernhard 
of  Siena  and  Anthony  of  Florence,  that  is  monks  with  a  specifically 
rational  type  of  asceticism,  undoubtedly  deserves  a  separate  treatment, 
and  cannot  be  disposed  of  incidentally  in  our  discussion.  Otherwise 
I  should  be  forced  here,  in  reply  to  criticism,  to  anticipate  what  I 
have  to  say  in  my  discussion  of  the  economic  ethics  of  Catholicism 
in  its  positive  relations  to  capitalism.  These  authors  attempt,  and  in 
that  anticipate  some  of  the  Jesuits,  to  present  the  profit  of  the 
merchant  as  a  reward  for  his  indiistria,  and  thus  ethically  to  justify  it. 
(Of  course,  even  Keller  cannot  claim  more.) 

The  concept  and  the  approval  of  industria  come,  of  course,  in  the 
last  analysis  from  monastic  asceticism,  probably  also  from  the  idea 
of  masserizia,  which  Alberti,  as  he  himself  says  through  the  mouth 
of  Gianozzo,  takes  over  from  clerical  sources.  We  shall  later  speak 
more  fully  of  the  sense  in  which  the  monastic  ethics  is  a  forerunner 



of  the  worldly  ascetic  denominations  of  Protestantism.  In  Greece, 
among  the  Cynics,  as  shown  by  late-Hellenic  tombstone  inscriptions, 
and,  with  an  entirely  different  background,  in  Egypt,  there  were 
suggestions  of  similar  ideas.  But  what  is  for  us  the  most  important 
thing  is  entirely  lacking  both  here  and  in  the  case  of  Alberti.  As  we 
shall  see  later,  the  characteristic  Protestant  conception  of  the  proof 
of  one's  own  salvation,  the  certitudo  salutis  in  a  calling,  provided  the 
psychological  sanctions  which  this  religious  belief  put  behind  the 
industria.  But  that  Catholicism  could  not  supply,  because  its  means 
to  salvation  were  different.  In  effect  these  authors  are  concerned 
with  an  ethical  doctrine,  not  with  motives  to  practical  action,  de- 
pendent on  the  desire  for  salvation.  Furthermore,  they  are,  as  is  very 
easy  to  see,  concerned  with  concessions  to  practical  necessity,  not,  as 
was  worldly  asceticism,  with  deductions  from  fundamental  religious 
postulates.  (Incidentally,  Anthony  and  Bernhard  have  long  ago  been 
better  dealt  with  than  by  Keller.)  And  even  these  concessions  have 
remained  an  object  of  controversy  down  to  the  present.  Nevertheless 
the  significance  of  these  monastic  ethical  conceptions  as  symptoms 
is  by  no  means  small. 

But  the  real  roots  of  the  religious  ethics  which  led  the  way  to  the 
modern  conception  of  a  calling  lay  in  the  sects  and  the  heterodox 
movements,  above  all  in  Wyclif;  although  Brodnitz  (Etiglische  Wirt- 
schaftsgeschichte), who  thinks  his  influence  was  so  great  that  Puritanism 
found  nothing  left  for  it  to  do,  greatly  overestimates  his  significance. 
All  that  cannot  be  gone  into  here.  For  here  we  can  only  discuss  in- 
cidentally whether  and  to  what  extent  the  Christian  ethic  of  the  Middle 
Ages  had  in  fact  already  prepared  the  way  for  the  spirit  of  capitalism. 

30.  The  words  /DjOev  äTTeXviQovTeg  (Luke  vi.  35)  and  the  translation 
of  the  Vulgate,  nihil  inde  sperantes,  are  thought  (according  to  A. 
Merx)  to  be  a  corruption  of  nr]6eva  dTTeATTL^ovTsg  (or  meminem  des- 
perantes),  and  thus  to  command  the  granting  of  loans  to  all  brothers, 
including  the  poor,  without  saying  anything  at  all  about  interest. 
The  passage  Deo  placere  vix  potest  is  now  thought  to  be  of  Arian 
origin  (which,  if  true,  makes  no  difference  to  our  contentions). 

3 1 .  How  a  compromise  with  the  prohibition  of  usury  was  achieved 
is  shown,  for  example,  in  Book  I,  chapter  65,  of  the  statutes  of  the 
Arte  di  Calimala  (at  present  I  have  only  the  Italian  edition  in  Emiliani- 
Guidici,  Stor.  dei  Com.  Ital.,  Ill,  p.  246).  "Procurino  i  consoli 
con  quelli  frate,  che  parrä  loro,  che  perdono  si  faccia  e  come  fare 
si  possa  il  meglio  per  I'amore  di  ciascuno,  del  dono,  merito  o  guider- 
dono,  ovvero  Interesse  per  I'anno  presente  e  secondo  che  altra  volta 
fatto  fue."  It  is  thus  a  way  for  the  guild  to  secure  exemption  for  its 
members  on  account  of  their  official  positions,  without  defiance  of 
authority.  The  suggestions  immediately  following,  as  well  as  the 
immediately  preceding  idea  to  book  all  interest  and  profits  as  gifts, 
are   very  characteristic  of  the   amoral   attitude   towards   profits   on 


The   Protjstant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

capital.  To  the  present  stock  exchange  black  list  against  brokers 
who  hold  back  the  difference  between  top  price  and  actual  selling 
price,  often  corresponded  the  outcry  against  those  who  pleaded 
before  the  ecclesiastical  court  with  the  exceptio  usiirarice  pravitatis. 


I.  Of  the  ancient  languages  only  Hebrew  has  any  similar  concept. 
Most  of  all  in  the  word  '"'?'*f9'  It  is  used  for  sacerdotal  funntions 
(Exod.  XXXV.  2t;  Neh.  xi.  22;  i  Chron.  ix.  13;  xxiii.  4;  xxvi.  30), 
for  business  in  the  service  of  the  king  (especially  i  Sam.  viii.  16; 
I  Chron.  iv.  23;  xxix.  6),  for  the  service  of  a  royal  official  (Esther  iii. 
9;  ix.  3),  of  a  superintendant  of  labour  (2  Kings  xii.  12),  of  a  slave 
(Gen.  xxxix.  1 1),  of  labour  in  the  fields  (i  Chron.  xxvii.  26),  of  crafts- 
men (Exod.  xxxi.  5;  XXXV.  21;  Kings  vii.  14),  for  traders  (Psa.  cvii. 
23),  and  for  worldly  activity  of  any  kind  in  the  passage,  Sirach  xi.  20, 
to  be  discussed  later.  The  word  is  derived  from  the  root  "^X?,  to 
send,  thus  meaning  originally  a  task.  That  it  originated  in  the  ideas 
current  in  Solomon's  bureaucratic  kingdom  of  serfs  (Fronstaat), 
built  up  as  it  was  according  to  the  Egyptian  model,  seems  evident 
from  the  above  references.  In  meaning,  however,  as  I  learn  from 
A.  Merx,  this  root  concept  had  become  lost  even  in  antiquity.  The 
word  came  to  be  used  for  any  sort  of  labour,  and  in  fact  became  fully 
as  colourless  as  the  German  Beruf,  with  which  it  shared  the  fate 
of  being  used  primarily  for  mental  and  not  manual  functions. 
The  expression  (pn),  assignment,  task,  lesson,  which  also  occurs  in 
Sirach  xi.  20,  and  is  translated  in  the  Septuagint  with  öiaOi^Krj,  is 
also  derived  from  the  terminology  of  the  servile  bureaucratic  regime 
of  the  time,  as  is  Ql^""*?"!  (Exod.  v.  13,  cf.  Exod.  v.  14),  where  the 
Septuagint  also  uses  öiaOi^Krj  for  task.  In  Sirach  xliii.  10  it  is  rendered 
in  the  Septuagint  with  Kpi/na.  In  Sirach  xi.  20  it  is  evidently  used  to 
signify  the  fulfillment  of  God's  commandments,  being  thus  related 
to  our  calling.  On  this  passage  in  Jesus  Sirach  reference  may  here 
be  made  to  Smend's  well-known  book  on  Jesus  Sirach,  and  for  the 
words  öiaOi'jKi],  epyov,  v6i>og,  to  his  Index  zur  Weisheit  des  Jesus 
Sirach  (Berlin,  1907).  As  is  well  known,  the  Hebrew  text  of  the 
Book  of.  Sirach  was  lost,  but  has  been  rediscovered  by  Schechter, 
and  in  part  supplemented  by  quotations  from  the  Talmud.  Luther 
did  not  possess  it,  and  these  two  Hebrew  concepts  could  not  have 
had  any  influence  on  his  use  of  language.  (See  below  on  Prov.  xxii.  29.) 

In  Greek  there  is  no  term  corresponding  in  ethical  connotation  to 
the  German  or  English  words  at  all.  Where  Luther,  quite  in  the 
spirit  of  the  modern  usage  (see  below),  translates  Jesus  Sirach  xi.  20 
and  21,  bleibe  in  deinem  Beruf,  the  Septuagint  has  at  one  point  epyov, 
at  the  other,  which  however  seems  to  be  an  entirely  corrupt  passage, 


vovoQ  (the  Hebrew  original  speaks  of  the  shining  of  divine  help!). 
Otherwise  in  antiquity  to  Ttpoai^Kox-xo  is  used  in  the  general  sense  of 
duties.  In  the  works  of  the  Stoics  Kafiarog  occasionally  carries  similar 
connotations,  though  its  linguistic  source  is  indifferent  (called  to  my 
attention  by  A.  Dieterich).  All  other  expressions  (such  as  rd^ic, 
etc.)  have  no  ethical  implications. 

In  Latin  what  we  translate  as  calling,  a  man's  sustained  activity 
under  the  division  of  labour,  which  is  thus  (normally)  his  source  of 
income  and  in  the  long  run  the  economic  basis  of  his  existence,  is, 
aside  from  the  colourless  opus,  expressed  with  an  ethical  content,  at 
least  similar  to  that  of  the  German  word,  either  by  officium  (from 
opificium,  which  was  originally  ethically  colourless,  but  later,  as 
especially  in  Seneca  de  benef,  IV,  p.  i8,  came  to  mean  Beruf);  or  by 
munus,  derived  from  the  compulsory  obligations  of  the  old  civic 
community;  or  finally  by  professio.  This  last  word  was  also  charac- 
teristically used  in  this  sense  for  public  obligations,  probably  being 
derived  from  the  old  tax  declarations  of  the  citizens.  But  later  it 
came  to  be  applied  in  the  special  modem  sense  of  the  liberal  pro- 
fessions (as  in  professio  bene  dicendi),  and  in  this  narrower  meaning 
had  a  significance  in  every  way  similar  to  the  German  Beruf,  even  in 
the  more  spiritual  sense  of  the  word,  as  when  Cicero  says  of  someone 
"non  intelligit  quid  profiteatur",  in  the  sense  of  "he  does  not  know 
his  real  profession".  The  only  difference  is  that  it  is,  of  course, 
definitely  secular  without  any  religious  connotation.  That  is  even 
more  true  of  ars,  which  in  Imperial  times  was  used  for  handicraft. 
The  Vulgate  translates  the  above  passages  from  Jesus  Sirach,  at  one 
point  with  opus,  the  other  (verse  21)  with  locus,  which  in  this  case 
means  something  like  social  station.  The  addition  of  mandaturatn 
tuorum  comes  from  the  ascetic  Jerome,  as  Brentano  quite  rightly 
remarks,  without,  however,  here  or  elsewhere,  calling  attention  to  the 
fact  that  this  was  characteristic  of  precisely  the  ascetic  use  of  the 
term,  before  the  Reformation  in  an  otherworldly,  afterwards  in  a 
worldly,  sense.  It  is  furthermore  uncertain  from  what  text  Jerome's 
translation  was  made.  An  influence  of  the  old  liturgical  meaning  of 
'^S**^^  does  not  seem  to  be  impossible. 

In  the  Romance  languages  only  the  Spanish  t^ocaaon  in  the  sense 
of  an  inner  call  to  something,  from  the  analogy  of  a  derical  oflSce, 
has  a  connotation  partly  corresponding  to  that  of  the  German  word, 
but  it  is  never  used  to  mean  calling  in  the  external  sense.  In  the 
Romance  Bible  translations  the  Spanish  vocacion,  the  Italian  vocazione 
and  chiamatnento,  which,  otherwise  have  a  meaning  partly  correspond- 
ing to  the  Lutheran  and  Calvinistic  usage  to  be  discussed  presently, 
are  used  only  to  translate  the  kXtjok;  of  the  New  Testament,  the  call 
of  the  Gospel  to  eternal  salvation,  which  in  the  Vulgate  is  vocatio. 
Strange  to  say,  Brentano,  op.  cit.,  maintains  that  this  fact,  which  I 
have  myself  adduced  to  defend  my  view,  is  evidenced  for  the  existence 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

of  the  concept  of  the  calling  in  the  sense  which  it  had  later,  before 
the  Reformation.  But  it  is  nothing  of  the  kind.  /cAj/atg  had  to  be 
translated  by  vocatio.  But  where  and  when  in  the  Middle  Ages  was 
it  used  in  our  sense?  The  fact  of  this  translation,  and  in  spite  of  it, 
the  lack  of  any  application  of  the  word  to  worldly  callings  is  what  is 
decisive.  Chiamamento  is  used  in  this  manner  along  with  vocazione  in 
the  Italian  Bible  translation  of  the  fifteenth  century,  which  is  printed 
in  the  Collezione  di  opere  inedite  e  rare  (Bologna,  1887),  while  the 
modern  Italian  translations  use  the  latter  alone.  On  the  other  hand, 
the  words  used  in  the  Romance  languages  for  calling  in  the  external 
worldly  sense  of  regular  acquisitive  activity  carry,  as  appears  from 
all  the  dictionaries  and  from  a  report  of  my  friend  Professor  Baist 
(of  Freiburg),  no  religious  connotation  whatever.  This  is  so  no 
matter  whether  they  are  derived  from  ministerium  or  officium,  which 
originally  had  a  certain  religious  colouring,  or  from  ars,  professio,  and 
implicare  (impeigo),  from  which  it  has  been  entirely  absent  from  the 
beginning.  The  passages  in  Jesus  Sirach  mentioned  above,  where 
Luther  used  Beruf,  are  .translated:  in  French,  v.  20,  office;  v.  21, 
labeur  (Calvinistic  translation);  Spanish,  v.  20,  obra;  v.  21,  lugar 
(following  the  Vulgate);  recent  translations,  posto  (Protestant).  The 
Protestants  of  the  Latin  countries,  since  they  were  minorities,  did  not 
exercise,  possibly  without  even  making  the  attempt,  such  a  creative 
influence  over  their  respective  languages  as  Luther  did  over  the  still 
less  highly  rationalized  (in  an  academic  sense)  German  official  language. 

2.  On  the  other  hand,  the  Augsburg  Confession  only  contains  the 
idea  implicitly  and  but  partially  developed.  Article  XVI  (ed.  by 
Kolde,  p.  43)  teaches:  "Meanwhile  it  (the  Gospel)  does  not  dissolve 
the  ties  of  civil  or  domestic  economy,  but  strongly  enjoins  us  to 
maintain  them  as  ordinances  of  God  and  in  such  ordinances  {ein 
jeder  nach  seinem  Beruf)  to  exercise  charity."  (Translated  by  Rev. 
W.  H.  Teale,  Leeds,  1842.) 

(In  Latin  it  is  only  "et  in  talibus  ordinationibus  exercere  cari- 
tatem".  The  English  is  evidently  translated  directly  from  the  Latin, 
and  does  not  contain  the  idea  which  came  into  the  German  version. — 
Translator's  Note.) 

The  conclusion  drawn,  that  one  must  obey  authority,  shows  that 
here  Beruf  is  thought  of,  at  least  primarily,  as  an  objective  order  in 
the  sense  of  the  passage  in  i  Cor.  vii.  20. 

And  Article  XXVII  (Kolde,  p.  83)  speaks  of  Beruf  (Latin  in  voca- 
tione  sua)  only  in  connection  with  estates  ordained  by  God:  clergy, 
magistrates,  princes,  lords,  etc.  But  even  this  is  true  only  of  the 
German  version  of  the  Konkor dienbuch,  while  in  the  German  Ed. 
princeps  the  sentence  is  left  out. 

Only  in  Article  XXVI  (Kolde,  p.  81)  is  the  word  used  in  a  sense 
^yhich  at  least  includes  our  present  meaning:  "that  he  did  chastise 
his  body,  not  to  deserve  by  that  discipline  remission  of  sin,  but  to 


have  his  body  in  bondage  and  apt  to  spiritual  things,  and  to  do  his 
calling".  Translated  by  Richard  Taverner,  Philadelphia  Publications 
Society,  1888.  (Latin  jMA-fa  vocationem  suam.) 

3.  According  to  the  lexicons,  kindly  confirmed  by  my  colleagues 
Professors  Braune  and  Hoops,  the  word  Beruf  {Dutch  beroep,  English 
calling,  Danish  kald,  Swedish  kallelse)  does  not  occur  in  any  of  the 
languages  which  now  contain  it  in  its  present  worldly  (secular)  sense 
before  Luther's  translation  of  the  Bible.  The  Middle  High  German, 
Middle  Low  German,  and  Middle  Dutch  words,  which  sound  like  it, 
all  mean  the  same  as  Ruf  in  modern  German,  especially  inclusive,  in 
late  mediaeval  times,  of  the  calling  (vocation)  of  a  candidate  to  a 
clerical  benefice  by  those  with  the  power  of  appointment.  It  is  a 
special  case  which  is  also  often  mentioned  in  the  dictionaries  of  the 
Scandinavian  languages.  The  word  is  also  occasionally  used  by 
Luther  in  the  same  sense.  However,  even  though  this  special  use  of 
the  word  may  have  promoted  its  change  of  meaning,  the  modern 
conception  of  Beruf  undoubtedly  goes  linguistically  back  to  the  Bible 
translations  by  Protestants,  and  any  anticipation  of  it  is  only  to  be 
found,  as  we  shall  see  later,  inTauler  (died  1361).  All  the  languages 
which  were  fundamentally  influenced  by  the  Protestant  Bible  trans- 
lations have  the  word,  all  of  which  this  was  not  true  (like  the  Romance 
languages)  do  not,  or  at  least  not  in  its  modern  meaning. 

Luther  renders  two  quite  diflferent  concepts  with  Beruf.  First  the 
Pauline  KXfjaig  in  the  sense  of  the  call  to  eternal  salvation  through 
Qod.Thus:  i  Cor.  i.  26;  Eph.i.  18;  iv.  1,4;  2  Thess.i.  11 ;  Heb.iii.  i ; 
2  Peter  i.  10.  All  these  cases  concern  the  purely  religious  idea  of  the 
call  through  the  Gospel  taught  by  the  apostle;  the  word  KAfjaig  has 
nothing  to  do  with  worldly  callings  in  the  modern  sense.  The  German 
Bibles  before  Luther  use  in  this  case  ritffunge  (so  in  all  those  in  the 
Heidelberg  Library),  and  sometimes  instead  of  "von  Gott  geruffet" 
say  "von  Gott  gefordert".  Secondly,  however,  he,  as  we  have  already 
seen,  translates  the  words  in  Jesus  Sirach  discussed  in  the  previous 
note  (in  the  Septuagint  £v  reo  epyco  aov  T:a\aiwOi)Ti  and  Kai  e/x/xeve 
TO)  novo)  aov),  with  "beharre  in  deinem  Beruf"  and  "bliebe  in  deinem 
Beruf",  instead  of  "bliebe  bei  deiner  Arbeit".  The  later  (authorized) 
Catholic  translations  (for  instance  that  of  Fleischütz,  Fulda,  1781) 
have  (as  in  the  New  Testament  passages)  simply  followed  him. 
Luther's  translation  of  the  passage  in  the  Book  of  Sirach  is,  so  far 
as  I  know,  the  first  case  in  which  the  German  word  Beruf  appears 
in  its  present  purely  secular  sense.The  preceding  exhortation,  verse  20, 
axTJdi  ev  diaOriKj)  aov,  he  translates  "bliebe  in  Gottes  Wort",  although 
Sirach  xiv.  i  and  xliii.  10  show  that,  corresponding  to  the  Hebrew 
pr\,  which  (according  to  quotations  in  the  Talmud)  Sirach  used, 
öiadi]Kr]  really  did  mean  something  similar  to  our  calling,  namely 
one's  fate  or  assigned  task.  In  its  later  and  present  sense  the  word 
Beruf  did  not  exist  in  the  German  language,  nor,  so  far  as  I  can  learn, 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and  the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

in  the  works  of  the  older  Bible  translators  or  preachers.  The  German 
Bibles  before  Luther  rendered  the  passage  from  Sirach  with  Werk. 
Berthold  of  Regensburg,  at  the  points  in  his  sermons  where  the 
modern  would  say  Beruf,  uses  the  word  Arbeit.  The  usage  was  thus 
the  same  as  in  antiquity.  The  first  passage  I  know,  in  which  not 
Beruf  but  Ruf  (as  a  translation  of  KXfjaio)  is  applied  to  purely  worldly 
labour,  is  in  the  fine  sermon  of  Tauler  on  Ephesians  iv  (Works,  Basle  edi- 
tion, f.  117.  v),  of  peasants  who  misten  go :  they  often  fare  better  "so  sie 
folgen  einfeltiglich  irem  Ruff  denn  die  geistlichen  Menschen,  die  auf 
ihren  Ruf  nicht  Acht  haben".  The  word  in  this  sense  did  not  find 
its  way  into  everyday  speech.  Although  Luther's  usage  at  first 
vacillates  between  Ruf  and  Beruf  (see  Werke,  Erlangen  edition, 
p.  51.),  that  he  was  directly  influenced  by  Tauler  is  by  no  means 
certain,  although  the  Freiheit  eines  Christenmenschen  is  in  miany 
respects  similar  to  this  sermon  of  Tauler.  But  in  the  purely  worldly 
sense  of  Tauler,  Luther  did  not  use  the  word  Ruf.  (This  against 
Denifle,  Luther,  p.  163.) 

Now  evidently  Sirach 's  advice  in  the  version  cf  the  Septuagint 
contains,  apart  from  the  general  exhortation  to  trust  in  God,  no 
suggestion  of  a  specifically  religious  valuation  of  secular  labour  in  a 
calling.  The  term  tiovoz,  toil,  in  the  corrupt  second  passage  would 
be  rather  the  opposite,  if  it  were  not  corrupted.  What  Jesus  Sirach 
says  simply  corresponds  to  the  exhortation  of  the  psalmist  (Psa.  xxxvii. 
3),  "Dwell  in  the  land,  and  feed  on  his  faithfulness",  as  also  comes 
out  clearly  in  the  connection  with  the  warning  not  to  let  oneself  be 
blinded  with  the  works  of  the  godless,  since  it  is  easy  for  God  to 
make  a  poor  man  rich.  Only  the  opening  exhortation  to  remain  in 
the  p\\  (verse  20)  has  a  certain  resemblance  to  the  KAfjai;  of  the  Gospel, 
but  here  Luther  did  not  use  the  word  Beruf  for  the  Greek  Öiadi)Kq. 
The  connection  between  Luther's  two  seemingly  quite  unrelated 
uses  of  the  word  Beruf  is  found  in  the  first  letter  to  the  Corinthians 
and  its  translation. 

In  the  usual  modern  editions,  the  whole  context  in  which 
the  passage  stands  is  as  follows,  i  Cor,  vii.  17  (English,  King 
James  version  [American  revision,  iqoi]):  "(17)  Only  as  the  Lord 
hath  distributed  to  each  man,  as  God  hath  called  each,  so  let  him 
walk.  And  so  ordain  I  in  all  churches.  (18)  Was  any  man  called  being 
circumcised?  let  him  not  become  uncircumcised.  Hath  any  man  been 
called  in  uncircumcision  ?  let  him  not  be  circumcised.  (19)  Circum- 
cision is  nothing  and  uncircumcision  is  nothing;  but  the  keeping  of 
the  commandments  of  God.  (20)  Let  each  man  abide  in  that  calling 
wherein  he  was  called  (t'f  rn  KAr'jaei  rj  ekA/jOi]  ;  an  undoubted  Hebraism, 
as  Professor  Merx  tells  me).  (21)  Wast  thou  called  being  a  bond- 
servant? care  not  for  it;  nay  even  if  thou  canst  become  free  use  it 
rather.  (22)  For  he  that  was  called  in  the  Lord  being  a  bondservant 
is  the  Lord's  freedman;  likewise  he  that  was  called  being  free  is 



Christ's  bondservant.  (23)  Ye  were  bought  with  a  price;  become  not 
bondservants  of  men.  (24)  Brethren,  let  each  man,  wherein  he  was 
called,  therein  abide  with  God." 

In  verse  29  follows  the  remark  that  time  is  shortened,  followed  by 
the  well-known  commandments  motivated  by  eschatological  expecta- 
tions: (31)  to  possess  women  as  though  one  did  not  have  them,  to 
buy  as  though  one  did  not  have  what  one  had  bought,  etc.  In  verse  20 
Luther,  following  the  older  German  translations,  even  in  1523  in  his 
exigesis  of  this  chapter,  renders  KXfjaiQ  with  Beruf,  and  interprets  it  with 
Stand.  (Erlangen  ed.,  LI,  p.  51.) 

In  fact  it  is  evident  that  the  word  KXfjan;  at  this  point,  and  only 
at  this,  corresponds  approximately  to  the  Latin  status  and  the  German 
Stand  (status  of  marriage,  status  of  a  servant,  etc.).  But  of  course 
not  as  Brentano,  op.  cit.,  p.  137,  assumes,  in  the  modern  sense  of 
Beruf.  Brentano  can  hardly  have  read  this  passage,  or  what  I  have 
said  about  it,  very  carefully.  In  a  sense  at  least  suggesting  it  this 
word,  which  is  etymologically  related  to  sKKArjaia,  an  assembly  which 
has  been  called,  occurs  in  Greek  literature,  so  far  as  the  lexicons  tell, 
only  once  in  a  passage  from  Dionysius  of  Halicarnassus,  where 
it  corresponds  to  the  Latin  classis,  a  word  borrowed  from  the 
Greek,  meaning  that  part  of  the  citizenry  which  has  been  called  to 
the  colours.  Theophylaktos  (eleventh-twelfth  century)  interprets 
I  Cor.  vii.  20:  iv  oio)  ßio)  Kai  ev  olq)  Tay/naTi  Kai  TToAirev/iazi  wv 
evlarevaev.  (My  colleague  Professor  Deissmann  called  my  attention 
to  this  passage.)  Now,  even  in  our  passage,  KXf^aiz  does  not  correspond 
to  the  modern  Beruf.  But  having  translated  KAfjaig  with  Beruf  in  the 
eschatologically  motivated  exhortation,  that  everyone  should  remain 
in  his  present  status,  Luther,  when  he  later  came  to  translate  the 
Apocrypha,  would  naturally,  on  account  of  the  similar  content  of  the 
exhortations  alone,  also  use  Beruf  for  novog  in  the  traditionalistic  and 
anti-chrematistic  commandment  of  Jesus  Sirach,  that  everyone 
should  remain  in  the  same  business.  This  is  what  is  important  and 
characteristic.  The  passage  in  i  Cor.  vii.  17  does  not,  as  has  been  pointed 
out,  use  KAfjaiQ  at  all  in  the  sense  of  Beruf,  a  definite  field  of  activity. 
In  the  meantime  (or  about  the  same  time),  in  the  Augsburg  Con- 
fession, the  Protestant  dogma  of  the  uselessness  of  the  Catholic 
attempt  to  excel  worldly  morality  was  established,  and  in  it  the 
expression  "einem  jeglichen  nach  seinem  Beruf"  was  used  (see 
previous  note).  In  Luther's  translation,  both  this  and  the  positive 
valuation  of  the  order  in  which  the  individual  was  placed,  as  holy, 
which  was  gaining  ground  just  about  the  beginning  of  the  1530's, 
stand  out.  It  was  a  result  of  his  more  and  more  sharply  defined 
belief  in  special  Divine  Providence,  even  in  the  details  of  life,  and 
at  the  same  time  of  his  increasing  inclination  to  accept  the  existing 
order  of  things  in  the  world  as  immutably  willed  by  God.  Vocatio, 
in  the  traditional  Latin,  meant  the  divine  call  to  a  life  of  holiness, 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

especially  in  a  monastery  or  as  a  priest.  But  now,  under  the  influence 
of  this  dogma,  life  in  a  worldly  calling  came  for  Luther  to  have  the 
same  connotation.  For  he  now  translated  novoc,  and  epyov  in  Jesus 
Sirach  with  Beruf,  for  which,  up  to  that  time,  there  had  been  only 
the  (Latin)  analogy,  coming  from  the  monastic  translation.  But  a 
few. years  earlier,  in  Prov.  xxii.  29,  he  had  still  translated  the  Hebrew 
n3X?9>  which  was  the  original  of  epyov  in  the  Greek  text  of  Jesus 
Sirach,  and  which,  like  the  German  Beruf  and  the  Scandinavian 
kald,  kallelse,  originally  related  to  a  spiritual  call  {Beruf),  as  in  other 
passages  (Gen.  xxxix.  11),  with  Geschäft  (Septuagint  epyov,  Vulgate 
opus,  English  Bibles  business,  and  correspondingly  in  the  Scandinavian 
and  all  the  other  translations  before  me). 

The  word  Beruf,  in  the  modern  sense  which  he  had  finally  created, 
remained  for  the  time  being  entirely  Lutheran.  To  the  Calvinists 
the  Apocrypha  are  entirely  uncanonical.  It  was  only  as  a  result  of  the 
development  which  brought  the  interest  in  proof  of  salvation  to  the 
fore  that  Luther's  concept  was  taken  over,  and  then  strongly  empha- 
sized by  them.  But  in  their  first  (Romance)  translations  they  had  no 
such  word  available,  and  no  power  to  create  one  in  the  usage  of  a 
language  already  so  stereotyped. 

As  early  as  the  sixteenth  century  the  concept  of  Beruf  in  its  present 
sense  became  established  in  secular  literature.  The  Bible  translators 
before  Luther  had  used  the  word  Berufung  for  KXfjaig  (as  for  instance 
in  the  Heidelberg  versions  of  1462-66  and  1485),  and  the  Eck  trans- 
lation of  1537  says  "in  dem  Ruf,  worin  er  beruft  ist".  Most  of  the 
later  Catholic  translators  directly  follow  Luther.  In  England,  the  first 
of  all,  Wyclif's  translation  (1382),  used  cleping  (the  Old  English 
word  which  was  later  replaced  by  the  borrowed  calling).  It  is  quite 
characteristic  of  the  Lollard  ethics  to  use  a  word  which  already 
corresponded  to  the  later  usage  of  the  Reformation.  Tyndale's  transla- 
tion of  1534,  on  the  other  hand,  interprets  the  idea  in  terms  of  status: 
"in  the  same  state  wherein  he  was  called",  as  also  does  the  Geneva 
Bible  of  1557.  Cranmer's  oflScial  translation  of  1539  substituted 
calling  for  state,  whil^  the  (Catholic)  Bible  of  Rheims  (1582),  as  well 
as  the  Anglican  Court  Bibles  of  the  Elizabethan  era,  characteristically 
return  to  vocation,  following  the  Vulgate. 

That  for  England,  Cranmer's  Bible  translation  is  the  source  of  the 
Puritan  conception  of  calling  in  the  sense  of  Beruf,  trade,  has  already, 
quite  correctly,  been  pointed  out  by  Murray.  As  early  as  the  middle 
of  the  sixteenth  century  calling  is  used  in  that  sense.  In  1588  unlawful 
callings  are  referred  to,  and  in  1603  greater  callings  in  the  sense  of 
higher  occupations,  etc.  (see  Murray).  Quite  remarkable  is  Bren- 
tano's  idea  {op.  cit.,  p.  139),  that  in  the  Middle  Ages  vocatio  was 
not  translated  with  Beruf,  and  that  this  concept  was  not  knowTi, 
because  only  a  free  man  could  engage  in  a  Beruf,  and  freemen,  in 
the  middle-class  professions,  did  not  exist  at  that  time.  Since  the 



whole  social  structure  of  the  mediaeval  crafts,  as  opposed  to  those  of 
antiquity,  rested  upon  free  labour,  and,  above  all,  almost  all  the 
merchants  were  freemen,  I  do  not  clearly  understand  this  thesis. 

4.  Compare  with  the  following  the  instructive  discussion  in  K. 
Eger,  Die  Anschauung  Luthers  vom  Beruf  (Giessen,  1900).  Perhaps 
its  only  serious  fault,  which  is  shared  by  almost  all  other  theological 
writers,  is  his  insufficiently  clear  analysis  of  the  concept  of  lex  naturce. 
On  this  see  E.  Troeltsch  in  his  review  of  Seeberg's  Dogmengeschichte, 
and  now  above  all  in  the  relevant  parts  of  his  Soziallehren  der  christ- 
lichen Kirchen. 

5.  For  when  Thomas  Aquinas  represents  the  division  of  men  into 
estates  and  occupational  groups  as  the  work  of  divine  providence, 
by  that  he  means  the  objective  cosmos  of  society.  But  that  the 
individual  should  take  up  a  particular  calling  (as  we  should  say; 
Thomas,  however,  says  ministerium  or  officium)  is  due  to  causce 
naturales.  Qucest.  quodlibetal,  VII,  Art.  17c:  "Haec  autem  diversi- 
ficatio  hominum  in  diversis  officiis  contingit  primo  ex  divina  Pro- 
videntia, quae  ita  hominum  status  distribuit  .  .  .  secundo  etiam  ex 
causis  naturalibus',  ex  quibus  contingit,  quod  in  diversis  hominibus 
sunt  diversae  inclinationes  ad  diversa  officia.  .  .  ." 

Quite  similar  is  Pascal's  view  when  he  says  that  it  is  chance  which 
determines  the  choice  of  a  calling.  See  on  Pascal,  A.  Koester,  Die 
Ethik  Pascals  (1907).  Of  the  organic  systems  of  religious  ethics, 
only  the  most  complete  of  them,  the  Indian,  is  different  in  this 
respect.  The  difference  between  the  Thomistic  and  the  Protestant 
ideas  of  the  calling  is  so  evident  that  we  may  dismiss  it  for  the  present 
with  the  above  quotation.  This  is  true  even  as  between  the  Thomistic 
and  the  later  Lutheran  ethics,  which  are  very  similar  in  many  other 
respects,  especially  in  their  emphasis  on  Providence.  We  shall  return 
later  to  a  discussion  of  the  Catholic  view-point.  On  Thomas  Aquinas, 
see  Maurenbrecher,  Thomas  von  Aquino's  Stellung  zum  Wirtschafts- 
leben seiner  Zeit,  1888.  Otherwise,  where  Luther  agrees  with  Thomas 
in  details,  he  has  probably  been  influenced  rather  by  the  general 
doctrines  of  Scholasticism  than  by  Thomas  in  particular.  For,  accord- 
ing to  Denifle's  investigations,  he  seems  really  not  to  have  known 
Thomas  very  well.  See  Denifle,  Luther  und  Luthertum  (1903),  p.  501, 
and  on  it,  Koehler,  Ein  Wort  zu  Denifles  Luther  (1904),  p.  25. 

6.  In  Von  der  Freiheit  eines  Christenmenschen,  (i)  the  double  nature 
of  man  is  used  for  the  justification  of  worldly  duties  in  the  sense  of 
the  lex  natures  (here  the  natural  order  of  the  world).  From  that  it 
follows  (Erlangen  edition,  27,  p.  188)  that  man  is  inevitably  bound  to 
his  body  and  to  the  social  community.  (2)  In  this  situation  he  will 
(p.  196:  this  is  a  second  justification),  if  he  is  a  believing  Christian, 
decide  to  repay  God's  act  X)f  grace,  which  was  done  for  pure  love, 
by  love  of  his  neighbour.  With  this  very  loose  connection  between 
faith  and  love  is  combined  (3)  (p.  190)  the  old  ascetic  justification 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

of  labour  as  a  means  of  securing  to  the  inner  man  mastery  over  the 
body.  (4)  Labour  is  hence,  as  the  reasoning  is  continued  with  another 
appearance  of  the  idea  of  lex  natures  in  another  sense  (here,  natural 
morality),  an  original  instinct  given  by  God  to  Adam  (before  the  fall), 
which  he  has  obeyed  "solely  to  please  God".  Finally  (5)  (pp.  161 
and  199),  there  appears,  in  connection  with  Matt.  vii.  18  f.,  the  idea 
that  good  work  in  one's  ordinary  calling  is  and  must  be  the  result  of 
the  renewal  of  life,  caused  by  faith,  without,  however,  developing  the 
most  important  Calvinistic  idea  of  proof.  The  powerful  emotion  which 
dominates  the  work  explains  the  presence  of  such  contradictory  ideas. 

(^y.  "It  is  not  from  the  benevolence  of  the  butcher,  the  brewer,  or 
the  baker,  that  we  expect  our  dinner,  but  from  their  regard  to  their 
own  interest.  We  address  ourselves,  not  to  their  humanity,  but  to 
their  self-love;  and  never  talk  to  them  of  our  own  necessities,  but  of 
their  advantages"  {Wealth  of  Nations,  Book  I,  chap.  ii). 
~  8.  "Omnia  enim  per  te  operabitur  (Deus),  mulgebit  per  te  vaccam 
et  servilissima  quaeque  opera  faciet,  ac  maxima  pariter  et  minima 
ipsi  grata  erunt"  (Exigesis  of  Genesis,  Opera  lat.  exeget.,  ed.  Elsperger, 
VII,  p.  213).  The  idea  is  found  before  Luther  in  Tauler,  who  holds 
the  spiritual  and  the  worldly  Ruf  to  be  in  principle  of  equal  value. 
The  difference  from  the  Thomistic  view  is  common  to  the  German 
mystics  and  Luther.  It  may  be  said  that  Thomas,  principally  to 
retain  the  moral  value  of  contemplation,  but  also  from  the  view-point 
of  the  mendicant  friar,  is  forced  to  interpret  Paul's  doctrine  that  "if 
a  man  will  not  work  he  shall  not  eat"  in  the  sense  that  labour,  which 
is  of  course  necessary  lege  natura,  is  imposed  upon  the  human  race 
as  a  whole,  but  not  on  all  individuals.  The  gradation  in  the  value  of 
forms  of  labour,  from  the  opera  servilia  of  the  peasants  upwards,  is 
connected  with  the  specific  character  of  the  mendicant  friars,  who 
were  for  material  reasons  bound  to  the  town  as  a  place  of  domicile. 
It  was  equally  foreign  to  the  German  mystics  and  to  Luther,  the 
peasant's  son;  both  of  them,  while  valuing  all  occupations  equally, 
looked  upon  their  order  of  rank  as  willed  by  God.  For  the  relevant 
passages  in  Thomas  see  Maurenbrecher,  op.  cit.,  pp.  65  ff. 

9.  It  is  astonishirtg  that  some  investigators  can  maintain  that 
such  a  change  could  have  been  without  effect  upon  the  actions  of 
men.  I  confess  my  inability  to  understand  such  a  view. 

10.  "Vanity  is  so  firmly  imbedded  in  the  human  heart  that  a  camp- 
follower,  a  kitchen -helper,  or  a  porter,  boast  and  seek  admirers.  ..." 
(Faugeres  edition,  I,  p.  208.  Compare  Koester,  o/).aV.,pp.  17,  136  ff.). 
On  the  attitude  of  Port  Royal  and  the  Jansenists  to  the  calling,  to 
which  we  shall  return,  see  now  the  excellent  study  of  Dr.  Paul 
Honigsheim,  Die  Staats-  und  Soziallehren  der  französischen  Jansenisten 
im  lyten  Jahrhundert  (Heidelberg  Historical  Dissertation,  1914.  It  is 
a  separately  printed  part  of  a  more  comprehensive  work  on  the  Vorge- 
schichte der  französischen  Aufklärung.  Compare  especially  pp.  138  ff.). 



II.  Apropos  of  the  Fuggers,  he  thinks  that  it  "cannot  be  right  and 
godly  for  such  a  great  and  regal  fortune  to  be  piled  up  in  the  lifetime 
of  one  man".  That  is  evidently  the  peasant's  mistrust  of  capital. 
Similarly  {Grosser  Sermon  vom  Wucher,  Erlangen  edition,  XX,  p.  109) 
investment  in  securities  he  considers  ethically  undesirable,  because 
it  is  "ein  neues  behendes  erfunden  Ding" — i.e.  because  it  is  to  him 
economically  incomprehensible ;  somewhat  like  margin  trading  to  the 
modern  clergyman. 

It.  The  difference  is  well  worked  out  by  H.  Levy  (in  his  study, 
Die  Grundlagen  des  ökonomischen  Liberalismus  in  der  Geschichte  der 
englischen  Volkswirtschaft,  Jena,  1912).  Compare  also,  for  instance, 
the  petition  of  the  Levellers  in  Cromwell's  army  of  1653  against 
monopolies  and  companies,  given  in  Gardiner,  Commonwealth,  II, 
p.  179.  Laud's  regime,  on  the  other  hand,  worked  for  a  Christian, 
social,  economic  organization  under  the  joint  leadership  of  Crown 
and  Church,  from  which  the  King  hoped  for  political  and  fiscal- 
monopolistic  advantages.  It  was  against  just  this  that  the  Puritans 
were  struggling. 

13.  What  I  understand  by  this  may  be  shown  by  the  example  of 
the  proclamation  addressed  by  Cromwell  to  the  Irish  in  1650,  with 
which  he  opened  his  war  against  them  and  which  formed  his  reply 
to  the  manifestos  of  the  Irish  (Catholic)  clergy  of  Clonmacnoise  of 
December  4  and  13,  1649.  The  most  important  sentences  follow: 
"Englishmen  had  good  inheritances  (namely  in  Ireland)  which  many 
of  them  purchased  with  their  money  .  .  .  they  had  good  leases  from 
Irishmen  for  long  time  to  come,  great  stocks  thereupon,  houses  and 
plantations  erected  at  their  cost  and  charge.  .  .  .  You  broke  the 
union  ...  at  a  time  when  Ireland  was  in  perfect  peace  and  when, 
through  the  example  of  English  industry,  through  commerce  and 
traffic,  that  which  was  in  the  nation's  hands  was  better  to  them  than 
if  all  Ireland  had  been  in  their  possession.  ...  Is  God,  will  God 
be  with  you?  I  am  confident  He  will  no't." 

This  proclamation,  which  is  suggestive  of  articles  in  the  English 
Press  at  the  time  of  the  Boer  War,  is  not  characteristic,  because  the 
capitalistic  interests  of  Englishmen  are  held  to  be  the  justification  of 
the  war.  That  argument  could,  of  course,  have  just  as  well  been 
made  use  of,  for  instance,  in  a  quarrel  between  Venice  and  Genoa 
over  their  respective  spheres  of  influence  in  the  Orient  (which,  in 
spite  of  my  pointing  it  out  here,  Brentano,  op.  cit.,  p.  142,  strangely 
enough  holds  against  me).  On  the  contrary,  what  is  interesting  in 
the  document  is  that  Cromwell,  with  the  deepest  personal  conviction, 
as  everyone  who  knows  his  character  will  agree,  bases  the  moral 
justification  of  the  subjection  of  the  Irish,  in  calling  God  to  witness, 
on  the  fact  that  English  capital  has  taught  the  Irish  to  work.  (The 
proclamation  is  in  Carlyle,  and  is  also  reprinted  and  analysed  in 
Gardiner,  History  of  the  Comynonu'ealth,  I,  pp.  163  f.) 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

14.  This  is  not  the  place  to  follow  the  subject  farther.  Gampare 
the  authors  cited  in  Note  16  below. 

15.  Compare  the  remarks  in  Jiiiicher's  fine  book,  Die  Gleichnisreden 
Jesu,  II,  pp.  108,  636  f. 

16.  With  what  follows,  compare  above  all  the  discussion  in  Eger, 
op.  cit.  Also  Schneckenburger's  fine  work,  which  is  even  to-day  not 
yet  out  of  date  {Vergleichende  Darstellung  der  lutherischeji  und  refor- 
mierten Lehrhegriffe,  Grüder,  Stuttgart,  1855).  Luthardt's  Ethik 
Luthers,  p.  84  of  the  first  edition,  the  only  one  to  which  I  have  had 
access,  gives  no  real  picture  of  the  development.  Further  compare 
Seeberg,  Dogmengeschichte,  II,  pp.  262  ff.  The  article  on  Beruf  in  the 
Realenzyklopädie  für  protestantische  Theologie  und  Kirche  is  valueless. 
Instead  of  a  scientific  analysis  of  the  conception  and  its  origin,  it 
contains  all  sorts  of  rather  sentimental  observations  on  all  possible 
subjects,  such  as  the  position  of  women,  etc.  Of  the  economic 
literature  on  Luther,  I  refer  here  only  to  Schmoller's  studies 
("Geschichte  der  Nationalökönomischen  Ansichten  in  Deutschland 
während  der  Reformationszeit",  Zeitschrift  f.  Staatswiss.,  XVI,  i860); 
Wiskemann's  prize  essay  (1861);  and  the  study  of  Frank  G.  Ward 
("Darstellung  und  Würdigung  von  Luthers  Ansichten  vom  Staat  und 
seinen  wirtschaftlichen  Aufgaben",  Conrads  Abhandlimgai,  XXI, 
Jena,  1898).  The  literature  on  Luther  in  commemoration  of  the 
anniversary  of  the  Reformation,  part  of  which  is  excellent,  has,  so 
far  as  I  can  see,  made  no  definite  contribution  to  this  particular 
problem.  On  the  social  ethics  of  Luther  (and  the  Lutherans)  compare, 
of  course,  the  relevant  parts  of  Troeltsch's  Soziallehren. 

17.  Analysis  of  the  Seventh  Chapter  of  the  First  Epistle  to  the  Corin- 
thians, 1523,  Erlangen  edition,  LI,  p.  i.  Here  Luther  still  interprets 
the  idea  of  the  freedom  of  every  calling  before  God  in  the  sense  of 
this  passage,  so  as  to  emphasize  (i)  that  certain  human  institutions 
should  be  repudiated  (monastic  vows,  the  prohibition  of  mixed 
marriages,  etc.),  (2)  that  the  fulfillment  of  traditional  worldly  duties 
to  one's  neighbour  (in  itself  indifferent  before  God)  is  turned  into  a 
commandment  of  brotherly  love.  In  fact  this  characteristic  reasoning 
(for  instance  pp.  55,. 56)  fundamentally  concerns  the  question  of  the 
dualism  of  the  lex  natura  in  its  relations  vi^ith  divine  justice. 

18.  Compare  the  passage  from  Von  Kaufhandlung  und  Wucher, 
which  Sombart  rightly  use?  as  a  motto  for  his  treatment  of  the 
handicraft -spirit  (=  traditionalism):  "Darum  musst  du  dir  fürsetzen, 
nichts  denn  deine  ziemliche  Nahrung  zu  suchen  in  solchem  Handel, 
danach  Kost,  Mühe,  Arbeit  und  Gefahr  rechnen  und  überschlagen 
und  also  dann  die  Ware  selbst  setzen,  steigern  oder  niedern,  dass  du 
solcher  Arbeit  und  Mühe  Lohn  davon  hasst."  The  principle  is  for- 
mulated in  a  thoroughly  Thomistic  spirit. 

19.  As  early  as  the  letter  to  H.  von  Sternberg  of  1530,  in  which 
he  dedicates  the  Exigesis  of  the  117th  Psalm  to  him,  the  estate  of  the 



lower  nobility  appears  to  him,  in  spite  of  its  moral  degradation,  as 
ordained  of  God  (Erlangen  edition,  XL,  pp.  282  ff.)-  The  decisive 
influence  of  the  Münzer  disturbances  in  developing  this  view-point  can 
clearly  be  seen  in  the  letter  (p.  282).  Compare  also  Eger,  op.  cit.,  p.  150. 

20.  Also  in  the  analysis  of  the  1 1  ith  Psalm,  verses  5  and  6  (Erlangen 
edition,  XL,  pp.  215-16),  written  in  1530,  the  starting-point  is  the 
polemics  against  withdrawal  from  the  world  into  monasteries.  But  in  this 
case  the  lex  naturce  (as  distinct  from  positive  law  made  by  the  Emperor 
and  the  Jurists)  is  directly  identical  with  divine  justice.  It  is  God's 
ordinance,  and  includes  especially  the  division  of  the  people  into 
classes  (p.  215).  The  equal  value  of  the  classes  is  emphasized,  but 
only  in  the  sight  of  God. 

21.  As  taught  especially  in  the  works  Von  Konzilien  und  Kirchen 
(1539)  and  Kurzer  Bekenntnis  vom  heiligen  Sakrament  (1545). 

22.  How  far  in  the  background  of  Luther's  thought  was  the  most 
important  idea  of  proof  of  the  Christian  in  his  calling  and  his  worldly 
conduct,  which  dominated  Calvinism,  is  shown  by  this  passage  from 
Von  Konzilien  und  Kirchen  (1539,  Erlangen  edition,  XXV,  p.  376): 
"Besides  these  seven  principal  signs  there  are  more  superficial  ones 
by  which  the  holy  Christian  Church  can  be  known.  If  we  are  not 
unchaste  nor  drunkards,  proud,  insolent,  nor  extravagant,  but  chaste, 
modest,  and  temperate."  According  to  Luther  these  signs  are  not  so 
infallible  as  the  others  (purity  of  doctrine,  prayer,  etc.).  "Because 
certain  of  the  heathen  have  borne  themselves  so  and  sometimes  even 
appeared  holier  than  Christians."  Calvin's  personal  position  was,  as 
we  shall  see,  not  very  different,  but  that  was  not  true  of  Puritanism. 
In  any  case,  for  Luther  the  Christian  serves  God  only  in  vocatione, 
not  per  vocationem  (Eger,  pp.  117  ff.).  Of  the  idea  of  proof,  on  the 
other  hand  (more,  however,  in  its  Pietistic  than  its  Calvinistic  form), 
there  are  at  least  isolated  suggestions  in  the  German  mystics  (see 
for  instance  in  Seeberg,  Dogmengeschichte,  p.  195,  the  passage  from 
Suso,  as  well  as  those  from  Tauler  quoted  above),  even  though  it 
was  understood  only  in  a  psychological  sense. 

23.  His  final  position  is  well  expressed  in  some  parts  of  the 
exegesis  of  Genesis  (in  the  op.  lat.  exeget.  edited  by  Elsperger). 

Vol.  IV,  p.  109:  "Neque  haec  fuit  levis  tentatio,  intentum  esse 
suae  vocationi  et  de  aliis  non  esse  curiosum.  .  .  .  Paucissimi  sunt, 
qui  sua  sorte  vivant  contenti  ...  (p.  iii).  Nostrum  autem  est, 
ut  vocanti  Deo  pareamus  ...  (p.  112).  Regula  igitur  haec  servanda 
est,  ut  unusquisque  maneat  in  sua  vocatione  et  suo  dono  contentus 
vivat,  de  aliis  autem  non  sit  curiosus."  In  effect  that  is  thoroughly 
in  accordance  with  Thomas  Aquinas 's  formulation  of  traditionalism 
(Secunda  secundce,  Quest.  118,  Art.  i) :  "Unde  necesse  est,  quod  bonum 
hominis  circa  ea  consistat  in  quadam  mensura,  dum  scilicet  homo  .  .  . 
quaerit  habere  exteriores  divitas,  prout  sunt  necessariae  ad  vitam 
ejus  secundum  suam  conditionem.  Et  ideo  in  excessu  hujus  mensurae 

The   Protestant   Ethic   and  the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

consistit  peccatum,  dum  scilicet  aliquis  oupra  debitum  modum  vult 
eas  vel  acquirere  vel  retinere,  quod  pertinet  ad  avaritiam."  The 
sinfulness  of  the  pursuit  of  acquisition  beyond  the  point  set  by  the 
needs  of  one's  station  in  life  is  based  by  Thomas  on  the  lex  natura 
as  revealed  by  the  purpose  (ratio)  of  external  goods ;  by  Luther,  on 
the  other  hand,  on  God's  will.  On  the  relation  of  faith  and  the  calling 
in  Luther  see  also  Vol.  VII,  p.  225:  "...  quando  es  fidelis,  turn 
placent  Deo  etiam  physica,  carnalia,  animalia,  officia,  sive  edas,  sive 
bibas,  sive  vigiles,  sive  dormias,  quae  mere  corporalia  et  animalia 
sunt.  Tanta  res  est  fides.  .  .  .  Verum  est  quidem,  placere  Deo 
etiam  in  impiis  sedulitatem  et  industriam  in  officio  [This  activity  in 
practical  life  is  a  virtue  lege  natura]  sed  obstat  incredulitas  et  vana 
gloria,  ne  possint  opera  sua  referre  ad  gloriam  Dei  [reminiscent  of 
Calvinistic  w^ays  of  speaking].  .  .  .  Merentur  igitur  etiam  impiorum 
bona  opera  in  hac  quidem  vita  praemia  sua  [as  distinct  from  Augus- 
tine's 'vitia  specie  virtutum  palliata']  sed  non  numerantur,  non 
coUiguntur  in  altero." 

24.  In  the  Kirchenpostille  it  runs  (Erlangen  edition,  X,  pp.  233, 
235-6):  "Everyone  is  called  to  some  calling."  He  should  wait  for 
this  call  (on  p.  236  it  even  becomes  command)  and  serve  God  in  it. 
God  takes  pleasure  not  in  man's  achievements  but  in  his  obedience 
in  this  respect. 

25.  This  explains  why,  in  contrast  to  what  has  been  said  above 
about  the  effects  of  Pietism  on  women  workers,  modern  business 
men  sometimes  maintain  that  strict  Lutheran  domestic  workers 
to-day  often,  for  instance  in  Westphalia,  think  very  largely  in  tradi- 
tional terms.  Even  without  going  over  to  the  factory  system,  and  in 
spite  of  the  temptation  of  higher  earnings,  they  resist  changes  in 
methods  of  work,  and  in  explanation  maintain  that  in  the  next  world 
such  trifles  won't  matter  anyway.  It  is  evident  that  the  mere  fact  of 
Church  membership  and  belief  is  not  in  itself  of  essential  significance 
for  conduct  as  a  whole.  It  has  been  much  more  concrete  religious 
values  and  ideals  which  have  influenced  the  development  of  capitalism 
in  its  early  stages  and,  to  a  lesser  extent,  still  do. 

26.  Compare  Tauler,  Basle  edition,  BL,  pp.  161  fif. 

27.  Compare  the  peculiarly  emotional  sermon  of  Tauler  referred 
to  above,  and  the  following  one,  17,  18,  verse  20. 

28.  Since  this  is  the  sole  purpose  of  these  present  remarks  on 
Luther,  I  have  limited  them  to  a  brief  preliminary  sketch,  which 
would,  of  course,  be  wholly  inadequate  as  an  appraisal  of  Luther's 
influence  as  a  whole. 

29.  One  who  shared  the  philosophy  of  history  of  the  Levellers 
would  be  in  the  fortunate  position  of  being  able  to  attribute  this  in 
turn  to  racial  differences.  They  believed  themselves  to  be  the  defenders 
of  the  Anglo-Saxon  birthright,  against  the  descendants  of  William 
the  Conqueror  and  the  Normans.  It  is  astonishing  enough  that  it 



has  not  yet  occurred  to  anyone  to  maintain  that  the  plebeian  Round- 
heads were  round-headed  in  the  anthropometric  sense ! 

30.  Especially  the  English  national  pride,  a  result  of  Magna 
Charta  and  the  great  wars.  The  saying,  so  typical  to-day,  "She  looks 
like  an  English  girl"  on  seeing  any  pretty  foreign  girl,  is  reported  as 
early  as  the  fifteenth  century. 

31.  These  differences  have,  of  course,  persisted  in  England  as 
well.  Especially  the  Squirearchy  has  remained  the  centre  of  "merrie 
old  England"  down  to  the  present  day,  and  the  whole  period  since 
the  Reformation  may  be  looked  upon  as  a  struggle  of  the  two  elements 
in  English  society.  In  this  point  I  agree  with  M.  J.  Bonn's  remarks 
(in  the  Frankfurter  Zeitung)  on  the  excellent  study  of  v.  Schulze- 
Gaevernitz  on  British  Imperialism.  Compare  H.  Levy  in  the  Archiv 
für  Sozialwissenschaft  und  Sozialpolitik,  46,  3. 

32.  In  spite  of  this  and  the  following  remarks,  which  in  my  opinion 
are  clear  enough,  and  have  never  been  changed,  I  have  again  and 
again  been  accused  of  this. 


1.  Zwinglianism  we  do  not  discuss  separately,  since  after  a  short 
lease  of  power  it  rapidly  lost  in  importance.  Arminianism,  the  dog- 
matic peculiarity  of  which  consisted  in  the  repudiation  of  the  doctrine 
of  predestination  in  its  strict  form,  and  which  also  repudiated  worldly 
asceticism,  was  organized  as  a  sect  only  in  Holland  (and  the  United 
States).  In  this  chapter  it  is  without  interest  to  us,  or  has  only  the 
negative  interest  of  having  been  the  religion  of  the  merchant  patricians 
in  Holland  (see  below).  In  dogma  it  resembled  the  Anglican  Church 
and  most  of  the  Methodist  denominations.  Its  Erastian  position  (i.e. 
upholding  the  sovereignty  of  the  State  even  in  Church  matters)  was, 
however,  common  to  all  the  authorities  with  purely  political  interests : 
the  Long  Parliament  in  England,  Elizabeth,  the  Dutch  States-General, 
and,  above  all,  Oldenbamereldt. 

2.  On  the  development  of  the  concept  of  Puritanism  see,  above  all, 
Sanford,  Studies  and  Reflections  of  the  Great  Rebellion,  p.  65  f.  When 
we  use  the  expression  it  is  always  in  the  sense  which  it  took  on  in 
the  popular  speech  of  the  seventeenth  century,  to  mean  the  ascetically 
inclined  religious  movements  in  Holland  and  England  without 
distinction  of  Church  organization  or  dogma,  thus  including  Inde- 
pendents, Congregationalists,  Baptists,  Mennonites,  and  Quakers. 

3.  This  has  been  badly  misunderstood  in  the  discussion  of  these 
questions.  Especially  Sombart,  but  also  Brentano,  continually  cite  the 
ethical  writers  (mostly  those  of  whom  they  have  heard  through  me) 
as  codifications  of  rules  of  conduct  without  ever  asking  which  of 
them  were  supported  by  psychologically  effective  religious  sanctions. 

Q  2^7 

The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

4.  I  hardly  need  to  emphasize  that  this  sketch,  so  far  as  it  is  con- 
cerned solely  with  the  field  of  dogma,  falls  back  everywhere  on  the 
formulations  of  the  literature  of  the  history  of  the  Church  and  of 
doctrine.  It  makes  no  claim  whatever  to  originality.  Naturally  I  have 
attempted,  so  far  as  possible,  to  acquaint  myself  with  the  sources  for 
the  history  of  the  Reformation.  But  to  ignore  in  the  process  the 
intensive  and  acute  theological  research  of  many  decades,  instead  of, 
as  is  quite  indispensable,  allowing  oneself  to  be  led  from  it  to  the 
sources,  would  have  been  presumption  indeed.  I  must  hope  that  the 
necessary  brevity  of  the  sketch  has  not  led  to  incorrect  formulations, 
and  that  I  have  at  least  avoided  important  misunderstandings  of  fact. 
The  discussion  contributes  something  new.  for  those  familiar  with 
theological  literature  only  in  the  sense  that  the  whole  is,  of  course, 
considered  from  the  point  of  view  of  our  problem.  For  that  reason 
many  of  the  most  important  points,  for  instance  the  rational  character 
of  this  asceticism  and  its  significance  for  modern  life,  have  naturally 
not  been  emphasized  by  theological  writers. 

This  aspect,  and  in  general  the  sociological  side,  has,  since  the 
appearance  of  this  study,  been  systematically  studied  in  the  work  of 
E.  Troeltsch,  mentioned  above,  whose  Gerhard  und  Mclancthon,  as 
well  as  numerous  reviews  in  the  Gott.  Gel.  Anz.,  contained  several 
preliminary  studies  to  his  great  work.  For  reasons  of  space  the 
references  have  not  included  everything  which  has  been  used,  but 
for  the  most  part  only  those  works  which  that  part  of  the  text  follows, 
or  which  are  directly  relevant  to  it.  These  are  often  older  authors, 
where  our  problems  have  seemed  closer  to  them.  The  insufficient 
pecuniary  resources  of  German  libraries  have  meant  that  in  the 
provinces  the  most  important  source  materials  or  studies  could  only 
be  had  from  Berlin  or  other  large  libraries  on  loan  for  very  short 
periods.  This  is  the  case  with  Voet,  Baxter,  Tyermans,  Wesley,  all 
the  Methodist,  Baptist,  and  Quaker  authors,  and  many  others  of  the 
earlier  writers  not  contained  in  the  Corpus  Reformatorum .  For  any 
thorough  study  the  use  of  English  and  American  libraries  is  almost 
indispensable.  But  for  the  following  sketch  it  was  necessary  (and 
possible)  to  be  content  with  material  available  in  Germany.  In 
America  recently  the  characteristic  tendency  to  deny  their  own 
sectarian  origins  has  led  many  university  libraries  to  provide  little 
or  nothing  new  of  that  sort  of  literature.  It  is  an  aspect  of  the  general 
tendency  to  the  secularization  of  American  life  which  will  in  a  short 
time  have  dissolved  the  traditional  national  character  and  changed 
the  significance  of  many  of  the  fundamental  institutions  of  the 
country  completely  and  finally.  It  is  now  necessary  to  fall  back  on 
the  small  orthodox  sectarian  colleges. 

5.  On  Calvin  and  Calvinism,  besides  the  fundamental  work  of 
Kampschulte,  the  best  source  of  information  is  the  discussion  of 
Erick  Marcks  (in  his  Coligny).  Campbell,  The  Puritans  in  Holland, 



England,  and  America  (2  vols.),  is  not  always  critical  and  unprejudiced. 
A  strongly  partisan  anti-Calvinistic  study  is  Pierson,  Studien  over 
Johan  Calvijn.  For  the  development  in  Holland  compare,  besides 
Motley,  the  Dutch  classics,  especially  Groen  van  Prinsterer,  Geschie- 
denis  v.h.  Vaderland;  La  Hollande  et  Vinfluence  de  Calvin  (1864);  Le 
parti  anti-rdvoliitionnaire  et  confessionnel  dans  I'dglise  des  P.B.  (i860) 
(for  modern  Holland);  further,  above  all,  Fruin's  Tien  jar  en  mit  den 
tachtigjarigen  oorlog,  and  especially  Naber,  Calvinist  of  Libertijnsch. 
Also  W.  J.  F.  Nuyens,  Gesch.  der  kerkel.  an  pol.  geschillen  in  de  Rep. 
d.  Ver.  Prov.  (Amsterdam,  1886);  A.  Köhler,  Die  Niederl.  ref.  Kirche 
(Erlangen,  1856),  for  the  nineteenth  century.  For  France,  besides 
Polenz,  now  Baird,  Rise  of  the  Huguenots.  For  England,  besides 
Carlyle,  Macaulay,  Masson,  and,  last  but  not  least,  Ranke,  above  all, 
now  the  various  works  of  Gardiner  and  Firth.  Further,  Taylor, 
A  Retrospect  of  the  Religious  Life  in  England  (1854),  and  the  excellent 
book  of  Weingarten,  Die  englischen  Revolutionskirchen.  Then  the 
article  on  the  English  Moralists  by  E.  Troeltsch  in  the  Realetizy- 
klopädie  für  protestantische  Theologie  und  Kirche,  third  edition,  and 
of  course  his  Soziallehren.  Also  E.  Bernstein's  excellent  essay  in 
the  Geschichte  des  Sozialismus  (Stuttgart,  1895,  I,  p.  50  ff.).  The  best 
bibliography  (over  seven  thousand  titles)  is  in  Dexter,  Congregational- 
ism of  the  Last  Three  Hundred  Years  (principally,  though  not  exclu- 
sively, questions  of  Church  organization).  The  book  is  very  much 
better  than  Price  {History  of  Nonconformism) ,  Skeats,  and  others. 
For  Scotland  see,  among  others.  Sack,  Die  Kirche  von  Schottland 
(1844),  and  the  literature  on  John  Knox.  For  the  American  colonies 
the  outstanding  work  is  Doyle,  The  English  in  America.  Further, 
Daniel  Wait  Howe,  The  Puritan  Republic;  J.  Brown,  The  Pilgrim 
Fathers  of  New  England  and  their  Puritan  Successors  (third  edition, 
Revell).  Further  references  will  be  given  later. 

For  the  differences  of  doctrine  the  following  presentation  is 
especially  indebted  to  Schneckenburger's  lectures  cited  above.  Ritschl's 
fundamental  work.  Die  christliche  Lehre  von  der  Rechtfertigung  und 
Versöhnung  (references  to  Vol.  HI  of  third  edition),  in  its  mixture  of 
historical  method  with  judgments  of  value,  shows  the  marked  pecu- 
liarities of  the  author,  who  with  all  his  fine  acuteness  of  logic  does 
not  always  give  the  reader  the  certainty  of  objectivity.  Where,  for 
instance,  he  differs  from  Schneckenburger's  interpretation  I  am  often 
doubtful  of  his  correctness,  however  little  I  presume  to  have  an 
opinion  of  my  own.  Further,  what  he  selects  out  of  the  great  variety 
of  religious  ideas  and  feelings  as  the  Lutheran  doctrine  often  seems 
to  be  determined  by  his  own  preconceptions.  It  is  what  Ritschl 
himself  conceives  to  be  of  permanent  value  in  Lutheranism.  It  is 
Lutheranism  as  Ritschl  would  have  had  it,  not  always  as  it  was. 
That  the  works  of  Karl  Müller,  Seeberg,  and  others  have  ever>'^vhere 
been  made  use  of  it  is  unnecessary  to  mention  particularly.   If  in 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

the  following  I  have  condemned  the  reader  as  well  as  myself  to  the 
penitence  of  a  malignant  growth  of  footnotes,  it  has  been  done  in 
order  to  give  especially  the  non-theological  reader  an  opportunity  to 
check  up  the  validity  of  this  sketch  by  the  suggestion  of  related  lines 
of  thought. 

6.  In  the  following  discussion  we  are  not  primarily  interested  in 
the  origin,  antecedents,  or  history  of  these  ascetic  movements,  but 
take  their  doctrines  as  given  in  a  state  of  full  development. 

7.  For  the  following  discussion  I  may  here  say  definitely  that  we 
are  not  studying  the  personal  views  of  Calvin,  but  Calvinism,  and 
that  in  the  form  to  which  it  had  evolved  by  the  end  of  the  sixteenth 
and  in  the  seventeenth  centuries  in  the  great  areas  where  it  had  a 
decisive  influence  and  which  were  at  the  same  time  the  home  of 
capitalistic  culture.  For  the  present,  Germany  is  neglected  entirely, 
since  pure  Calvinism  never  dominated  large  areas  here.  Reformed  is, 
of  course,  by  no  means  identical  with  Calvinistic. 

8.  Even  the  Declaration  agreed  upon  between  the  University  of 
Cambridge  and  the  Archbishop  of  Canterbury  on  the  17th  Article 
of  the  Anglican  Confession,  the  so-called  Lambeth  Article  of  1595, 
which  (contrary  to  the  official  version)  expressly  held  that  there  was 
also  predestination  to  eternal  death,  was  not  ratified  by  the  Queen. 
The  Radicals  (as  in  Hanserd  Ktiolly's  Cotifesston)  laid  special  emphasis 
on  the  express  predestination  to  death  (not  only  the  admission  of 
damnation,  as  the  milder  doctrine  would  have  it). 

9.  Westminster  Confession,  fifth  official  edition,  London,  1717. 
Compare  the  Savoy  and  the  (American)  Hanserd  KnoUy's  Declarations. 
On  predestination  and  the  Huguenots  see,  among  others,  Polenz, 

I.  pp.  545  ff- 

10.  On  Milton's  theology  see  the  essay  of  Eibach  in  the  Theol. 
Studieti  und  Kritiken,  1879.  Macaulay's  essay  on  it,  on  the  occasion 
of  Sumner's  translation  of  the  Doctrina  Christiana,  rediscovered  in 
1823  (Tauchnitz  edition,  185,  pp.  i  ff.),  is  superficial.  For  more 
detail  see  the  somewhat  too  schematic  six-volume  English  work  of 
Masson,  and  the  German  biography  of  Milton  by  Stern  which  rests 
upon  it.  Milton  early  began  to  grow  away  from  the  doctrine  of  pre- 
destination in  the  form  of  the  double  decree,  and  reached  a  wholly 
free  Christianity  in  his  old  age.  In  his  freedom  from  the  tendencies 
of  his  own  time  he  may  in  a  certain  sense  be  compared  to  Sebastian 
Franck.  Only  Milton  was  a  practical  and  positive  person,  Franck 
predominantly  critical.  Milton  is  a  Puritan  only  in  the  broader  sense 
of  the  rational  organization  of  his  life  in  the  world  in  accordance 
with  the  divine  will,  which  formed  the  permanent  inheritance  of  later 
times  from  Calvinism.  Franck  could  be  called  a  Puritan  in  much  the 
same  sense.  Both,  as  isolated  figures,  must  remain  outside  our 

11.  "Hie  est  fides  summus  gradus;  credere  Deum  esse  clementum, 


qui  tarn  paucos  salvat,  justum,  qui  sua  voluntate  nos  damnabiles 
facit",  is  the.  text  of  the  famous  passage  in  De  servo  arbitrio. 

12.  The  truth  is  that  both  Luther  and  Calvin  believed  funda- 
mentally in  a  double  God  (see  Ritschl's  remarks  in  Geschichte  des 
Pietismus  and  Kostlin,  Gott  in  Realenzyklopädie  für  protestantische 
Theologie  und  Kirche,  third  edition),  the  gracious  and  kindly  Father 
of  the  New  Testament,  who  dominates  the  first  books  of  the  Institutio 
Christiana,  and  behind  him  the  Deus  absconditus  as  an  arbitrary 
despot.  For  Luther,  the  God  of  the  New  Testament  kept  the  upper 
hand,  because  he  avoided  reflection  on  metaphysical  questions  as 
useless  and  dangerous,  while  for  Calvin  the  idea  of  a  transcendental 
God  won  out.  In  the  popular  development  of  Calvinism,  it  is  true, 
this  idea  could  not  be  maintained,  but  what  took  his  place  was  not  the 
Heavenly  Father  of  the  New  Testament  but  the  Jehovah  of  the  Old. 

13.  Compare  on  the  following:  Scheibe,  Calvins  Prädestinations- 
lehre (Halle,  1897).  On  Calvinistic  theology  in  general,  Heppe, 
Dogmatik  der  evangelisch-reformierten  Kirche  (Elberfeld,  1861). 

14.  Corpus  Reformator  urn,  LXXVH,  pp.  186  ff. 

15.  The  preceding  exposition  of  the  Calvinistic  doctrine  can  be 
found  in  much  the  same  form  as  here  given,  for  instance  in  Hoorn- 
beek's  Theologia  practica  (Utrecht,  1663),  L.  H,  c.  i ;  de  predesti- 
natione,  the  section  stands  characteristically  directly  under  the 
heading  De  Deo.  The  Biblical  foundation  for  it  is  principally  the 
first  chapter  of  the  Epistle  to  the  Ephesians.  It  is  unnecessary  for 
us  here  to  analyse  the  various  inconsistent  attempts  to  combine  with 
the  predestination  and  providence  of  God  the  responsibility  and  free 
will  of  the  individual.  They  began  as  early  as  in  Augustine's  first 
attempt  to  develop  the  doctrine. 

16.  "The  deepest  community  (with  God)  is  found  not  in  institu- 
tions or  corporations  or  churches,  but  in  the  secrets  of  a  solitary 
heart",  as  Dowden  puts  the  essential  point  in  his  fine  book  Puritan  and 
Anglican(p.  234).  This  deep  spiritual  loneliness  of  the  individual  applied 
as  well  to  the  Jansenists  of  Port  Royal,  who  were  also  predestinationists. 

17.  "Contra  qui  huiusmodi  ccetum  [namely  a  Church  which  main- 
tains a  pure  doctrine,  sacraments,  and  Church  discipline]  contemnunt 
.  .  .  salutis  suae  certi  esse  non  possunt;  et  qui  in  illo  contemtu 
perseverat  electus  non  est."  Olevian,  De  subst.  feed.,  p.  222. 

18.  "It  is  said  that  God  sent  His  Son  to  save  the  human  race, 
but  that  was  not  His  purpose.  He  only  wished  to  help  a  few  out  of 
their  degradation — and  I  say  unto  you  that  God  died  only  for  the 
elect"  (sermon  held  in  1609  at  Broek,  near  Rogge,  Wtenbogaert, 
II,  p.  9.  Compare  Nuyens,  op.  cit.,  II,  p.  232).  The  explanation  of 
the  role  of  Christ  is  also  confused  in  Hanserd  Knolly's  Confession. 
It  is  everywhere  assumed  that  God  did  not  need  His  instrumentality. 

19.  Entzauberung  der  Welt.  On  this  process  see  the  other  essays 
in  my  Wirtschaftsethik  der  Weltreligionen.  The  peculiar  position  of 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

the  old  Hebrew  ethic,  as  compared  with  the  closely  related  ethics  of 
Egypt  and  Babylon,  and  its  development  after  the  time  of  the  prophets, 
rested,  as  is  shown  there,  entirely  on  this  fundamental  fact,  the 
rejection  of  sacramental  magic  as  a  road  to  salvation.  (This  process 
is  for  Weber  one  of  the  most  important  aspects  of  the  broader  process 
of  rationalization,  in  which  he  sums  up  his  philosophy  of  history. 
See  various  parts  of  Wirtschaft  und  Gesellschaft  and  H.  Grab,  Der 
Begriff  des  Rationalen  hei  Max  Weber. — Translator's  Note.) 

20.  Similarly  the  most  consistent  doctrine  held  that  baptism  was 
required  by  positive  ordinance,  but  was  not  necessary  to  salvation. 
For  that  reason  the  strictly  Puritan  Scotch  and  English  Independents 
were  able  to  maintain  the  principle  that  children  of  obvious  reprobates 
should  not  be  baptized  (for  instance,  children  of  drunkards).  An 
adult  who  desired  to  be  baptized,  but  was  not  yet  ripe  for  the  com- 
munion, the  Synod  of  Edam  of  1586  (Art.  32,  i)  recommended 
should  be  baptized  only  if  his  conduct  were  blameless,  and  he  should 
have  placed  his  desires  sonder  superstitie. 

21.  This  negative  attitude  toward  all  sensuous  culture  is,  as  Dow- 
den,  op.  cit.,  shows,  a  very  fundamental  element  of  Puritanism. 

22.  The  expression  individualism  includes  the  most  heterogeneous 
things  imaginable.  What  is  here  understood  by  it  will,  I  hope,  be 
clear  from  the  following  discussion.  In  another  sense  of  the  word, 
Lutheranism  has  been  called  individualistic,  because  it  does  not 
attempt  any  ascetic  regulation  of  life.  In  yet  another  quite  different 
sense  the  word  is  used,  for  example,  by  Dietrich  Schäfer  when  in 
his  study,  "Zvir  Beurteilung  des  Wormser  Konkordats",  Abh.  d. 
Berl.  Akad.  (1905),  he  calls  the  Middle  Ages  the  era  of  pronounced 
individuality  because,  for  the  events  relevant  for  the  historian, 
irrational  factors  then  had  a  significance  which  they  do  not  possess 
to-day.  He  is  right,  but  so  perhaps  are  also  those  whom  he  attacks 
in  his  remarks,  for  they  mean  something  quite  different,  when  they 
speak  of  individuality  and  individualism.  Jacob  Burchhardt's  brilliant 
ideas  are  to-day  at  least  partly  out  of  date,  and  a  thorough  analysis 
of  these  concepts  in  historical  terms  would  at  the  present  time  be  highly 
valuable  to  science.  Quite  the  opposite  is,  of  course,  true  when  the  play 
impulse  causes  certain  historians  to  define  the  concept  in  such  a  way 
as  to  enable  them  to  use  it  as  a  label  for  any  epoch  of  history  they  please. 

23.  And  in  a  similar,  though  naturally  less  sharp,  contrast  to  the 
later  Catholic  doctrine.  The  deep  pessimism  of  Pascal,  which  also 
rests  on  the  doctrine  of  predestination,  is,  on  the  other  hand,  of 
Jansenist  origin,  and  the  resulting  individualism  of  renunciation  by 
no  means  agrees  with  the  official  Catholic  position.  See  the  study  by 
Honigsheim  on  the  French  Jansenists,  referred  to  in  Chap.  III.  note  10. 

24.  The  same  holds  for  the  Jansenists. 

25.  Bailey,  Praxis  pietatis  (German  edition,  Leipzig,  1724),  p.  187. 
Also  P.  J.  Spener  in  his  Theologische  Bedenken  (according  to  third 



edition,  Halle,  1712)  adopts  a  similar  standpoint.  A  friend  seldom 
gives  advice  for  the  glory  of  God,  but  generally  for  mundane  (though 
not  necessarily  egotistical)  reasons.  "He  [the  knowing  man]  is  blind 
in  no  man's  cause,  but  best  sighted  in  his  own.  He  confines  himself 
to  the  circle  of  his  own  affairs  and  thrusts  not  his  fingers  into  needless 
fires.  He  sees  the  falseness  of  it  [the  world]  and  therefore  learns  to 
trust  himself  ever,  others  so  far  as  not  to  be  damaged  by  their  dis- 
appointment", is  the  philosophy  of  Thomas  Adams  {Works  of  the 
Puritan  Divines,  p.  11).  Bailey  {Praxis  pietatis,  p.  176)  further  recom- 
mends every  morning  before  going  out  among  people  to  imagine 
oneself  going  into  a  wild  forest  full  of  dangers,  and  to  pray  God 
for  the  "cloak  of  foresight  and  righteousness".  This  feeling  is  charac- 
teristic of  all  the  ascetic  denominations  without  exception,  and  in 
the  case  of  many  Pietists  led  directly  to  a  sort  of  hermit's  life  within 
the  world.  Even  Spangenberg  in  the  (Moravian)  Idea  fides  fratum, 
p.  382,  calls  attention  with  emphasis  to  Jer.  xvii.  5:  "Cursed  is  the 
man  who  trusteth  in  man."  To  grasp  the  peculiar  misanthropy  of 
this  attitude,  note  also  Hoombeek's  remarks  {Theologia  practica,  I, 
p.  882)  on  the  duty  to  love  one's  enemy:  "Denique  hoc  magis  nos 
ulcisimur,  quo  proximum,  inultum  nobis,  tradimus  ultori  Deo — Quo 
quis  plus  se  ulscitur,  eo  minus  id  pro  ipso  agit  Deus."  It  is  the  same 
transfer  of  vengeance  that  is  found  in  the  parts  of  the  Old  Testament 
written  after  the  exile ;  a  subtle  intensification  and  refinement  of  the 
spirit  of  revenge  compared  to  the  older  "eye  for  an  eye".  On  brotherly 
love,  see  below,  note  34. 

26.  Of  course  the  confessional  did  not  have  only  that  effect.  The 
explanations,  for  instance,  of  Muthmann,  Z.  f.  Rel.  Psych.,  I,  Heft  2, 
p.  65,  are  too  simple  for  such  a  highly  complex  psychological  problem 
as  the  confessional. 

27.  This  is  a  fact  which  is  of  especial  importance  for  the  inter- 
pretation of  the  psychological  basis  of  Calvinistic  social  organizations. 
They  all  rest  on  spiritually  individualistic,  rational  motives.  The 
individual  never  enters  emotionally  into  them.  The  glory  of  God  and 
one's  own  salvation  always  remain  above  the  threshold  of  conscious- 
ness. This  accounts  for  certain  characteristic  features  of  the  social 
organization  of  peoples  with  a  Puritan  past  even  to-day. 

28.  The  fundamentally  anti-authoritarian  tendency  of  the  doctrine, 
which  at  bottom  undermined  every  responsibility  for  ethical  conduct 
or  spiritual  salvation  on  the  part  of  Church  or  State  as  useless,  led 
again  and  again  to  its  proscription,  as,  for  instance,  by  the  States- 
General  of  the  Netherlands.  The  result  was  always  the  formation  of 
conventicles  (as  after  16 14). 

29.  On  Bunyan  compare  the  biography  of  Froude  in  the  English 
Men  of  Letters  series,  also  Macaulay's  superficial  sketch  {Miscel. 
Works,  n,  p.  227).  Bunyan  was  indifferent  to  the  denominational  dis- 
tinctions within  Calvinism,  but  was  himself  a  strict  Calvinistic  Baptist. 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and  the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

30.  It  is  tempting  to  refer  to  the  undoubted  importance  for  the 
social  character  of  Reformed  Christianity  of  the  necessity  for  salva- 
tion, following  from  the  Calvinistic  idea  of  -'incorporation  into  the 
body  of  Christ"  (Calvin,  Instit.  Christ,  III,  11,  10),  of  reception  into  a 
community  conforming  to  the  divine  prescriptions.  From  our  point 
of  view,  however,  the  centre  of  the  problem  is  somewhat  different. 
That  doctrinal  tenet  could  have  been  developed  in  a  Church  of 
purely  institutional  character  {anstaltsmässig),  and,  as  is  well  known, 
this  did  happen.  But  in  itself  it  did  not  possess  the  psychological 
force  to  awaken  the  initiative  to  form  such  communities  nor  to  imbue 
them  with  the  power  which  Calvinism  possessed.  Its  tendency  to 
form  a  community  worked  itself  out  very  largely  in  the  world  outside 
the  Church  organizations  ordained  by  God.  Here  the  belief  that  the 
Christian  proved  (see  below)  his  state  of  grace  by  action  in  majorem 
Dei  gloriam  was  decisive;  and  the  sharp  condemnation  of  idolatry  of 
the  flesh  and  of  all  dependence  on  personal  relations  to  other  men 
was  bound  unperceived  to  direct  this  energy  into  the  field  of  objective 
(impersonal)  activity.  The  Christian  who  took  the  proof  of  his  state 
of  grace  seriously  acted  in  the  service  of  God's  ends,  and  these  could 
only  be  impersonal.  Every  purely  emotional,  that  is  not  rationally 
motivated,  personal  relation  of  man  to  man  easily  fell  in  the  Puritan, 
as  in  every  ascetic  ethic,  under  the  suspicion  of  idolatry  of  the  flesh. 
In  addition  to  what  has  already  been  said,  this  is  clearly  enough  shown 
for  the  case  of  friendship  by  the  following  warning:  "It  is  an 
irrational  act  and  not  fit  for  a  rational  creature  to  love  any  one  farther 
than  reason  will  allow  us.  ...  It  very  often  taketh  up  men's  minds 
so  as  to  hinder  their  love  of  God"  (Baxter,  Christian  Directory,  IV, 
p.  253).  We  shall  meet  such  arguments  again  and  again. 

The  Calvinist  was  fascinated  by  the  idea  that  God  in  creating  the 
world,  including  the  order  of  society,  must  have  willed  things  to  be 
objectively  purposeful  as  a  means  of  adding  to  His  glory ;  not  the 
flesh  for  its  own  sake,  but  the  organization  of  the  things  of  the  flesh 
under  His  will.  The  active  energies  of  the  elect,  liberated  by  the 
doctrine  of  predestination,  thus  flowed  into  the  struggle  to  rationalize 
the  world.  Especially  the  idea  that  the  public  welfare,  or  as  Baxter 
(Christian  Directory,  IV,  p.  262)  puts  it,  quite  in  the  sense  of  later 
liberal  rationalism,  "The  good  of  the  many"  (with  a  somewhat 
forced  reference  to  Rom.  ix.  3),  was  to  be  preferred  to  any  personal 
or  private  good  of  the  individual,  followed,  although  not  in  itself 
new,  for  Puritanism  from  tne  repudiation  of  idolatry  of  the  flesh. 
The  traditional  American  objection  to  performing  personal  service 
is  probably  connected,  besides  the  other  important  causes  resulting 
from  democratic  feelings,  at  least  indirectly  with  that  tradition. 
Similarly,  the  relative  immunity  of  formerly  Puritan  peoples  to 
Caesarism,  and,  in  general,  the  subjectively  free  attitude  of  the  English 
to  their  great  statesmen  as  compared  with  liftany  things  which  we 



have  experienced  since  1878  in  Germany  positively  and  negatively. 
On  the  one  hand,  there  is  a  greater  w^illingness  to  give  the  great  man 
his  due,  but,  on  the  other,  a  repudiation  of  all  hysterical  idolization 
of  him  and  of  the  naive  idea  that  political  obedience  could  be  due 
anyone  from  thankfulness.  On  the  sinfulness  of  the  belief  in  authority, 
which  is  only  permissible  in  the  form  of  an  impersonal  authority,  the 
Scriptures,  as  well  as  of  an  excessive  devotion  to  even  the  most  holy 
and  virtuous  of  men,  since  that  might  interfere  with  obedience  to 
God,  see  Baxter,  Christian  Directory  (second  edition,  1678),  I,  p.  56. 
The  political  consequences  of  the  renunciation  of  idolatry  of  the 
flesh  and  the  principle  which  was  first  applied  only  to  the  Church 
but  later  to  life  in  general,  that  God  alone  should  rule,  do  not  belong 
in  this  investigation. 

31.  Of  the  relation  between  dogmatic  and  practical  psychological 
consequence  we  shall  often  have  to  speak.  That  the  two  are  not 
identical  it  is  hardly  necessary  to  remark. 

'^2.  Social,  used  of  course  without  any  of  the  implications  attached 
to  the  modem  sense  of  the  word,  meaning  simply  activity  within  the 
Church,  politics,  or  any  other  social  organization. 

33.  "Good  works  performed  for  any  other  purpose  than  the  glory 
of  God  are  sinful"  {Hanserd  Knolly's  Confession,  chap.  xvi). 

34.  What  such  an  impersonality  of  brotherly  love,  resulting  from 
the  orientation  of  life  solely  to  God's  will,  means  in  the  field  of 
religious  group  life  itself  may  be  well  illustrated  by  the  attitude  of 
the  China  Inland  Mission  and  the  International  Missionaries  Alliance 
(see  Wameck,  Gesch.  d.  prot.  Missionären,  pp.  99,  1 1 1).  At  tremendous 
expense  an  army  of  missionaries  was  fitted  out,  -for  instance  one 
thousand  for  China  alone,  in  order  by  itinerant  preaching  to  ofifer 
the  Gospel  to  all  the  heathen  in  a  strictly  literal  sense,  since  Christ 
had  commanded  it  and  made  His  second  coming  dependent  on  it. 
Whether  these  heathen  should  be  converted  to  Christianity  and 
thus  attain  salvation,  even  whether  they  could  understand  the 
language  in  which  the  missionary  preached,  was  a  matter  of  small 
importance  and  could  be  left  to  God,  Who  alone  could  control  such 
things.  According  to  Hudson  Taylor  (see  Wameck,  op.  cit.),  China 
has  about  fifty  million  families;  one  thousand  missionaries  could 
each  reach  fifty  families  per  day  (!)  or  the  Gospel  could  be  presented 
to  all  the  Chinese  in  less  than  three  years.  It  is  precisely  the  same 
manner  in  which,  for  instance,  Calvinism  carried  out  its  Church 
discipline.  The  end  was  not  the  salvation  of  those  subject  to  it, 
which  was  the  affair  of  God  alone  (in  practice  their  own)  and  could 
not  be  in  any  way  influenced  by  the  means  at  the  disposal  of  the 
Church,  but  simply  the  increase  of  God's  glory.  Calvinism  as  such 
is  not  responsible  for  those  feats  of  missionary  zeal,  since  they  rest 
on  an  interdenominational  basis.  Calvin  himself  denied  the  duty  of 
sending  missions  to  the  heathen  since  a  further  expansion  of  the 


The   Protestafit   Ethic   afid   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

Church  is  wiiits  Dei  opus.  Nevertheless,  they  obviously  originate 
in  the  ideas,  running  through  the  whole  Puritan  ethic,  according  to 
which  the  duty  to  love  one's  neighbour  is  satisfied  by  fulfilling  God's 
commandments  to  increase  His  glory.  The  neighbour  thereby  receives 
all  that  is  due  him,  and  anything  further  is  God's  affair.  Humanity 
in  relation  to  one's  neighbour  has,  so  to  speak,  died  out.  That  is 
indicated  by  the  most  various  circumstances. 

Thus,  to  mention  a  remnant  of  that  atmosphere,  in  the  field  of 
charity  of  the  Reformed  Church,  which  in  certain  respects  is  justly 
famous,  the  Amsterdam  orphans,  with  (in  the  twentieth  century!) 
their  coats  and  trousers  divided  vertically  into  a  black  and  a  red,  or 
a  red  and  a  green  half,  a  sort  of  fool's  costume,  and  brought  in 
parade  formation  to  church,  formed,  for  the  feelings  of  the  past,  a 
highly  uplifting  spectacle.  It  served  the  glory  of  God  precisely  to 
the  extent  that  all  personal  and  human  feelings  were  necessarily 
insulted  by  it.  And  so,  as  we  shall  see  later,  even  in  all  the  details 
of  private  life.  Naturally  all  that  signified  only  a  tendency  and  we 
shall  later  ourselves  have  to  make  certain  qualifications.  But  as  one 
very  important  tendency  of  this  ascetic  faith,  it  was  necessary  to 
point  it  out  here. 

35.  In  all  these  respects  the  ethic  of  Port  Royal,  although  pre- 
destinationist,  takes  quite  a  different  standpoint  on  account  of  its 
mystical  and  otherworldly  orientation,  which  is  in  so  far  Catholic 
(see  Honigsheim,  op.  cit.). 

36.  Hundeshagen  (Beitr.  z.  Kirchenverfassungsgesch.  u.  Kirchen- 
politik, 1864,  I,  p.  37)  takes  the  view,  since  often  repeated,  that 
predestination  was  a  dogma  of  the  theologians,  not  a  popular  doctrine. 
But  that  is  only  true  if  the  people  is  identified  with  the  mass  of  the 
uneducated  lower  classes.  Even  then  it  has  only  limited  validity. 
Köhler  {op.  cit)  found  that  in  the  forties  of  the  nineteenth  century 
just  those  masses  (meaning  the  petite  bourgeoisie  of  Holland)  were 
thoroughly  imbued  with  predestination.  Anyone  who  denied  the 
double  decree  was  to  them  a  heretic  and  a  condemned  soul.  He 
himself  was  asked  about  the  time  of  his  rebirth  (in  the  sense  of  pre- 
destination). Da  Costa  and  the  separation  of  de  Kock  were  greatly 
influenced  by  it.  Not  only  Croniwell,  in  whose  case  Zeller  {Das 
Theologische  System  Zwinglis,  p.  17)  has  already  shown  the  effects  of 
the  dogma  most  effectively,  but  also  his  army  knew  very  well  what 
it  was  about.  Moreover,  the  canons  of  the  synods  of  Dordrecht  and 
Westminster-  were  national  questions  of  the  first  importance.  Crom- 
well's tryers  and  ejectors  admitted  only  believers  in  predestination, 
and  Baxter  {Life,  I,  p.  72),  although  he  was  otherwise  its  opponent, 
considers  its  effect  on  the  quality  of  the  clergy  to  be  important.  That 
the  Reformed  Pietists,  the- members  of  the  English  and  Dutch  con- 
venticles, should  not  have  imderstood  the  doctrine  is  quite  impossible. 
It  was  precisely  what  drove  them  together  to  seek  the  certitudo  salutis. 



What  significance  the  doctrine  of  predestination  does  or  does  not 
have  when  it  remains  a  dogma  of  the  theologians  is  shown  by  perfectly 
orthodox  Catholicism,  to  which  it  was  by  no  means  strange  as  an 
esoteric  doctrine  under  various  forms.  What  is  important  is  that  the 
idea  of  the  individual's  obligation  to  consider  himself  of  the  elect 
and  prove  it  to  himself  was  always  denied.  Compare  for  the  Catholic 
doctrine,  for  instance,  A.  Van  Wyck,  Tract,  de  prcedestinatione 
(Cologne,  1708).  To  what  extent  Pascal's  doctrine  of  predestination 
was  correct,  we  cannot  inquire  here. 

Hundeshagen,  who  dislikes  the  doctrine,  evidently  gets  his  im- 
pressions primarily  from  German  sources.  His  antipathy  is  based  on 
the  purely  deductive  opinion  that  it  necessarily  leads  to  moral 
fatalism  and  antinomianism.  This  opinion  has  already  been  refuted 
by  Zeller,  op.  cit.  That  such  a  result  was  possible  cannot,  of  course, 
be  denied.  Both  Melanchthon  and  Wesley  speak  of  it.  But  it  is  charac- 
teristic that  in  both  cases  it  is  combined  with  an  emotional  religion 
of  faith.  For  them,  lacking  the  rational  idea  of  proof,  this  consequence 
was  in  fact  not  unnatural. 

The  same  consequences  appeared  in  Islam.  But  why?  Because  the 
Mohammedan  idea  was  that  of  predetermination,  not  predestination, 
and  was  applied  to  fate  in  this  world,  not  in  the  next.  In  consequence 
the  most  important  thing,  the  proof  of  the  believer  in  predestination, 
played  no  part  in  Islam.  Thus  only  the  fearlessness  of  the  warrior 
(as  in  the  case  of  moira)  could  result,  but  there  were  no  consequences 
for  rationalization  of  life;  there  was  no  religious  sanction  for  them. 
See  the  (Heidelberg)  theological  dissertation  of  F.  Ullrich,  Die 
Vorherhestimmungslehre  itn  Islam  u.  Christenheit,  1900.  The  modifi- 
cations of  the  doctrine  which  came  in  practice,  for  instance  Baxter, 
did  not  disturb  it  in  essence  so  long  as  the  idea  that  the  election  of 
God,  and  its  proof,  fell  upon  the  concrete  individual,  was  not  shaken. 
Finally,  and  above  all,  all  the  great  men  of  Puritanism  (in  the  broadest 
sense)  took  their  departure  from  this  doctrine,  whose  terrible  serious- 
ness deeply  influenced  their  youthful  development.  Milton  like,  in 
declining  order  it  is  true,  Baxter,  and,  still  later,  the  free-thinker 
Franklin.  Their  later  emancipation  from  its  strict  interpretation  is 
directly  parallel  to  the  development  which  the  religious  movement 
as  a  whole  underwent  in  the  same  direction.  And  all  the  great  religious 
revivals,  at  least  in  Holland,  and  most  of  those  in  England,  took  it 

37.  As  is  true  in  such  a  striking  way  of  the  basic  atmosphere  of 
Bunyan's  Pilgrim's  Progress. 

38.  This  question  meant  less  to  the  later  Lutheran,  even  apart 
from  the  doctrine  of  predestination,  than  to  the  Calvinist.  Not  because 
he  was  less  interested  in  the  salvation  of  his  soul,  but  because,  in  the 
form  which  the  Lutheran  Church  had  taken,  its  character  as  an 
institution  for  salvation  (Heilsanstalt)  came  to  the  fore.  The  individual 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

thus  felt  himself  to  be  an  object  of  its  care  and  dependent  on  it. 
The  problem  was  first  raised  within  Lutheranism  characteristically 
enough  through  the  Pietist  movement.  The  question  of  certitudo 
salutis  itself  has,  however,  for  every  non -sacramental  religion  of 
salvation,  whether  Buddhism,  Jainism,  or  anything  else,  been  abso- 
lutely fundamental;  that  must  not  be  forgotten.  It  has  been  the 
origin  of  all  psychological  drives  of  a  purely  religious  character. 

39.  Thus  expressly  in  the  letter  to  Bucer,  Corp.  Ref.  29,  p.  883  f. 
Compare  with  that  again  Scheibe,  op.  cit.,  p.  30. 

40.  The  Westminster  Confession  (XVIII,  p.  2)  also  assures  the 
elect  of  indubitable  certainty  of  grace,  although  with  all  our  activity 
we  remain  useless  servants  and  the  struggle  against  evil  lasts  one's 
whole  life  long.  But  even  the  chosen  one  often  has  to  struggle  long 
and  hard  to  attain  the  certitudo  which  the  consciousness  of  having 
done  his  duty  gives  him  and  of  which  a  true  believer  will  never 
entirely  be  deprived. 

41.  The  orthodox  Calvinistic  doctrine  referred  to  faith  and  the 
consciousness  of  community  with  God  in  the  sacraments,  and  men- 
tioned the  "other  fruits  of  the  Spirit"  only  incidentally.  See  the 
passages  in  Heppe,  op.  cit.,  p.  425.  Calvin  himself  most  emphatically 
denied  that  works  were  indications  of  favour  before  God,  although 
he,  like  the  Lutherans,  considered  them  the  fruits  of  belief  {Instit. 
Christ,  111,2,  37,  38).  The  actual  evolution  to  the  proof  of  faith  through 
works,  which  is  characteristic  of  asceticism,  is  parallel  to  a  gradual 
modification  of  the  doctrines  of  Calvin.  As  with  Luther,  the  true 
Church  was  first  marked  off  primarily  by  purity  of  doctrine  and 
sacraments,  but  later  the  disciplina  came  to  be  placed  on  an  equal 
footing  with  the  other  two.  This  evolution  may  be  followed  in  the 
passages  given  by  Heppe,  op.  cit.,  pp.  194-5,  as  well  as  in  the  manner 
in  which  Church  members  were  acquired  in  the  Netherlands  by  the 
end  of  the  sixteenth  century  (express  subjection  by  agreement  to 
Church  discipline  as  the  principal  prerequisite). 

42.  For  example,  Olevian,  De  substantia  fcederis  gratuiti  inter 
Deum  et  electos  (1585),  p.  257;  Heidegger,  Corpus  Theologice,  XXIV, 
p.  87;  and  other  passages  in  Heppe,  Dogmatik  der  ev.  ref.  Kirche 
(1861),  p.  425- 

43.  On  this  point  see  the  remarks  of  Schneckenburger,  op.  cit.,  p.  48. 

44.  Thus,  for  example,  in  Baxter  the  distinction  between  mortal 
and  venial  sin  reappears  in  a  truly  Catholic  sense.  The  former  is  a 
sign  of  the  lack  of  grace  which  can  only  be  attained  by  the  conversion 
of  one's  whole  life.  The  latter  is  not  incompatible  with  grace. 

45.  As  held  in  many  difTerent  shades  by  Baxter,  Bailey,  Sedgwick, 
Hoombeek.  Further  see  examples  given  by  Schneckenburger,  op. 
cit.,  p.  262. 

46.  The  conception  of  the  state  of  grace  as  a  sort  of  social  estate 
(somewhat  like  that  of  the  ascetics  of  the  early  Church)  is  very  common. 



See    for   instance    Schortinghuis,    Het    innige    Christendom    U740 
proscribed  by  the  States-General) ! 

47.  Thus,  as  we  shall  see  later,  in  countless  passages,  especially 
the  conclusion,  of  Baxter's  Christian  Directory.  This  recommendation 
of  worldly  activity  as  a  means  of  overcoming  one's  own  feeling  of 
moral  inferiority  is  reminiscent  of  Pascal's  psychological  interpretation 
of  the  impulse  of  acquisition  and  ascetic  activity  as  means  to  deceive 
oneself  about  one's  own  moral  worthlessness.  For  him  the  belief  in 
predestination  and  the  conviction  of  the  original  sinfulness  of  every- 
thing pertaining  to  the  flesh  resulted  only  in  renunciation  of  the 
world  and  the  recommendation  of  contemplation  as  the  sole  means 
of  lightening  the  burden  of  sin  and  attaining  certainty  of  salvation. 
Of  the  orthodox  Catholic  and  the  Jansenist  versions  of  the  idea  of 
calling  an  acute  analysis  has  been  made  by  Dr.  Paul  Honigsheim  in 
the  dissertation  cited  above  (part  of  a  larger  study,  which  it  is  hoped 
will  be  continued).  The  Jansenists  lacked  every  trace  of  a  connection 
between  certainty  of  salvation  and  worldly  activity.  Their  concept  of 
calling  has,  even  more  strongly  than  the  Lutheran  or  even  the  orthodox 
Catholic,  the  sense  of  acceptance  of  the  situation  in  life  in  which  one 
finds  oneself,  sanctioned  not  only,  as  in  Catholicism  by  the  social 
order,  but  also  by  the  voice  of  one's  own  conscience  (Honigsheim, 
op.  cit.,  pp.  139  ff.). 

48.  The  very  lucidly  written  sketch  of  Lobstein  in  the  Festgabe 
für  H.  Holtzmann,  which  starts  from  his  view-point,  may  also  be 
compared  with  the  following.  It  has  been  criticized  for  too  sharp  an 
emphasis  on  the  certitudo  salutis.  But  just  at  this  point  Calvin's 
theology  must  be  distinguished  from  Calvinism,  the  theological 
system  from  the  needs  of  religious  practice.  All  the  religious  move- 
ments which  have  affected  large  masses  have  started  from  the 
question,  "How  can  I  become  certain  of  my  salvation?"  As  we  have 
said,  it  not  only  plays  a  central  part  in  this  case  but  in  the  history  of 
all  religions,  even  in  India.  And  could  it  well  be  otherwise? 

49.  Of  course  it  cannot  be  denied  that  the  full  development  of 
this  conception  did  not  take  place  until  late  Lutheran  times  (Prastorius, 
Nicolai,  Meisner).  It  is  present,  however,  even  in  Johannes  Gerhard, 
quite  in  the  sense  meant  here.  Hence  Ritschl  in  Book  IV  of  his 
Geschichte  des  Pietismus  (II,  pp.  3  ff.)  interprets  the  introduction  of 
this  concept  into  Lutheranism  as  a  Renaissance  or  an  adoption  of 
Catholic  elements.  He  does  not  deny  (p.  10)  that  the  problem  of 
individual  salvation  was  the  same  for  Luther  as  for  the  Catholic 
Mystics,  but  he  believes  that  the  solution  was  precisely  opposite  in 
the  t\Vo  cases.  I  can,  of  course,  have  no  competent  opinion  of  my 
own.  That  the  atmosphere  of  Die  Freiheit  eines  Christenmenschen  is 
different,  on  the  one  hand,  from  the  sweet  flirtation  with  the  liebem 
Jesulein  of  the  later  writers,  and  on  the  other  from  Tauler's  religious 
feeling,  is  naturally  obvious  to  anyone.   Similarly  the  retention  of 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

the  mystic-magical  element  in  Luther's  doctrines  of  the  Communion 
certainly  has  different  religious  motives  from  the  Bemhardine  piety, 
the  "Song  of  Songs  feeling"  to  wliich  Ritschl  again  and  again  returns 
as  the  source  of  the  bridal  relations  with  Christ.  But  might  not,  among 
other  things,  that  doctrine  of  the  Communion  have  favoured  the 
revival  of  mystical  religious  emotions?  Further,  it  is  by  no  means 
accurate  to  say  that  (p.  1 1,  op.  cit.)  the  freedom  of  the  mystic  consisted 
entirely  in  isolation  from  the  world.  Especially  Tauler  has,  in  passages 
which  from  the  point  of  view  of  the  psychology  of  religion  are  very 
interesting,  maintained  that  the  order  which  is  thereby  brought 
into  thoughts  concerning  worldly  activities  is  one  practical  result  of 
the  nocturnal  contemplation  which  he  recommends,  for  instance,  in 
case  of  insomnia.  "Only  thereby  [the  mystical  union  with  God  at 
night  before  going  to  sleep]  is  reason  clarified  and  the  brain 
strengthened,  and  man  is  the  whole  day  the  more  peacefully  and 
divinely  guided  by  virtue  of  the  inner  discipline  of  having  truly 
united  himself  with  God :  then  all  his  works  shall  be  set  in  order. 
And  thus  when  a  man  has  forewarned  (=  prepared)  himself  of  his 
work,  and  has  placed  his  trust  in  virtue;  then  if  he  comes  into  the 
world,  his  works  shall  be  virtuous  and  divine"  {Predigten,  fol.  318). 
Thus  we  see,  and  we  shall  return  to  the  point,  that  mystic  con- 
templation and  a  rational  attitude  toward  the  calling  are  not  in  them- 
selves mutually  contradictory.  The  opposite  is  only  true  when  the 
religion  takes  on  a  directly  hysterical  character,  which  has  not  been 
the  case  with  all  mystics  nor  even  all  Pietists. 

50.  On  this  see  the  introduction  to  the  following  essays  on  the  Wirt- 
schaftsethik  der  Weltreligionen  (not  included  in  this  translation :  German 
in  Gesammelte  Aufsätze  zur  Religionssoi^iologie. — Translator's  Note). 

51".  In  this  assumption  Calvinism  has  a  point  of  contact  with 
official  Catholicism.  But  for  the  Catholics  there  resulted  the  necessity 
of  the  sacrament  of  repentance;  for  the  Reformed  Church  that  of 
practical  proof  through  activity  in  the  world. 

52.  See,  for  instance,  Beza  {De  prcedestinat  doct.  ex  preelect.  in 
Rom  9a,  Raph.  Eglino  exc.  1584),  p.  133:  "Sicut  ex  operibus  vere 
bonis  ad  sanctificationis  donum,  a  sanctificatione  ad  fidem — ascendi- 
mus:  ita  ex  certis  illis  effectis  non  quamvis  vocationem,  sed  efficacem 
illam  et  ex  hac  vocatione  electionem  et  ex  electione  donum  prae- 
destinationis  in  Christo  tarn  firmam  quam  immotus  est  Dei  thronus 
certissima  connexione  effectorum  et  causarum  colligimus.  .  .  ,"  Only 
with  regard  to  the  signs  of  damnation  is  it  necessary  to  be  careful, 
since  it  is  a  matter  of  final  judgment.  On  this  point  the  Puritans  first 
differed.  See  further  the  thorough  discussion  of  Schneckenburger, 
op.  cit.,  who  to  be  sure  only  cites  a  limited  category  of  literature.  In 
the  whole  Puritan  literature  this  aspect  comes  out.  "It  will  not  be 
said,  did  you  believe? — but:  were  you  Doers  or  Talkers  only?"  says 
Bunyan.  According  to  Baxter  {The  Saints'  Everlasting  Rest,  chap,  xii), 


who  teaches  the  mildest  form  of  predestination,  faith  means  sub- 
jection to  Christ  in  heart  and  in  deed,  "Do  what  you  are  able  first, 
and  then  complain  of  God  for  denying  you  grace  if  you  have  cause", 
was  his  answer  to  the  objection  that  the  will  was  not  free  and  God 
alone  was  able  to  insure  salvation  {Works  of  the  Puritan  Divines,  IV, 
p.  155).  The  investigation  of  Fuller  (the  Church  historian)  was 
limited  to  the  one  question  of  practical  proof  and  the  indications  of 
his  state  of  grace  in  his  conduct.  The  same  with  Howe  in  the  passage 
referred  to  elsewhere.  Any  examination  of  the  Works  of  the  Puritan 
Divines  gives  ample  proofs. 

Not  seldom  the  conversion  to  Puritanism  was  due  to  Catholic 
ascetic  writings,  thus,  with  Baxter,  a  Jesuit  tract.  These  conceptions 
were  not  wholly  new  compared  with  Calvin's  own  doctrine  {Instit. 
Christ,  chap,  i,  original  edition  of  1536,  pp.  97,  113).  Only  for  Calvin 
himself  the  certainty  of  salvation  could  not  be  attained  in  this  manner 
(p.  147).  Generally  one  referred  to  i  John  iii.  5  and  similar  passages. 
The  demand  for  fides  efficax  is  not — to  anticipate — limited  to  the 
Calvinists.  Baptist  confessions  of  faith  deal,  in  the  article  on  pre- 
destination, similarly  with  the  fruits  of  faith  ("and  that  its — of  re- 
generation— proper  evidence  appears  in  the  holy  fruits  of  repentance 
and  faith  and  newness  of  life" — Article  7  of  the  Confession  printed  in 
the  Baptist  Church  Manual  by  J.  N.  Brown,  D.D.,  Philadelphia, 
Am.  Bapt.  Pub.  Soc).  In  the  same  way  the  tract  (under  Alennonite 
influence),  Oliif-Tacxken,  which  the  Harlem  Synod  adopted  in  1649, 
begins  on  page  i  with  the  question  of  how  the  children  of  God  are  to  be 
known,  and  answers  (p.  10) :  "Nu  al  is't  dat  dasdanigh  vruchtbare  ghe- 
love  alleene  zii  het  seker  fondamentale  kennteeken — om  de  conscientien 
der  gelovigen  in  het  nieuwe  verbondt  der  genade  Gods  te  versekeren." 

53.  Of  the  significance  of  this  for  the  material  content  of  social 
ethics  some  hint  has  been  given  above.  Here  we  are  interested  not  in 
the  content,  but  in  the  motives  of  moral  action. 

54.  How  this  idea  must  have  promoted  the  penetration  of  Puritan- 
ism with  the  Old  Testament  Hebrew  spirit  is  evident. 

55.  Thus  the  Savoy  Declaration  says  of  the  members  of  the  ecclesia 
piira  that  they  are  "saints  by  effectual  calling,  visibly  manifested  by 
their  profession  and  walking". 

56.  "A  Principle  of  Goodness",  Charnock  in  the  Works  nf  the 
Puritan  Divines,  p.  175. 

57.  Conversion  is,  as  Sedgwick  puts  it,  an  "exact  copy  of  the 
decree  of  predestination".  And  whoever  is  chosen  is  also  called  to 
obedience  and  made  capable  of  it,  teaches  Bailey.  Only  those  whom 
God  calls  to  His  faith  (which  is  expressed  in  their  conduct)  are  true 
believers,  not  merely  temporary  believers,  according  to  the  (Baptist) 
Confession  of  Hanserd  KnoUy. 

58.  Compare,  for  instance,  the  conclusion  to  Baxter's  Christian 

The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

59.  Thus,  for  instance,  Chamock,  Self -Examination,  p.  183,  in 
refutation  of  the  Catholic  doctrine  of  dubitatio. 

60.  This  argument  recurs  again  and  again  in  Hoornbeek,  Theo- 
logia  practica.  For  instance,  I,  p.  160;  II,  pp.  70,  72,  182. 

61.  For  instance,  the  Conf.  Helvet,  16,  says  "et  improprie  his 
[the  works]  salus  adtribuitur" . 

62.  With  all  the  above  compare  Schneckenburger,  pp.  80  ff. 

63.  Augustine  is  supposed  to  have  said  "si  non  es  praedestinatus, 
fac  ut  praedestineris". 

64.  One  is  reminded  of  a  saying  of  Goethe  with  essentially  the 
same  meaning:  "How  can  a  man  know  himself?  Never  by  observation, 
but  through  action.  Try  to  do  your  duty  and  you  will  know  what  is  in 
you.  And  what  is  your  duty?  Your  daily  task." 

65.  For  though  Calvin  himself  held  that  saintliness  must  appear 
on  the  surface  {Instit.  Christ,  IV,  pp.  i,  2,  7,  9),  the  dividing-line 
between  saints  and  sinners  must  ever  remain  hidden  from  human 
knowledge.  We  must  believe  that  where  God's  pure  word  is  alive  in 
a  Church,  organized  and  administered  according  to  His  law,  some 
of  the  elect,  even  though  we  do  not  know  them,  are  present. 

66.  The  Calvinistic  faith  is  one  of  the  many  examples  in  the 
history  of  religions  of  the  relation  between  the  logical  and  the  psycho- 
logical consequences  for  the  practical  religious  attitude  to  be  derived 
from  certain  religious  ideas.  Fatalism  is,  of  course,  the  only  logical 
consequence  of  predestination.  But  on  account  of  the  idea  of  proof 
the  psychological  result  was  precisely  the  opposite.  For  essentially 
similar  reasons  the  followers  of  Nietzsche  claim  a  positive  ethical 
significance  for  the  idea  of  eternal  recurrence.  This  case,  however, 
is  concerned  with  responsibility  for  a  future  life  which  is  connected 
with  the  active  individual  by  no  conscious  thread  of  continuity, 
while  for  the  Puritan  it  was  tua  res  agitur.  Even  Hoornbeek  {Theologia 
practica,  I,  p.  159)  analyses  the  relation  between  predestination  and 
action  well  in  the  language  of  the  times.  The  electi  are,  on  account  of 
their  election,  proof  against  fatalism  because  in  their  rejection  of  it 
they  prove  themselves  "quos  ipsa  electio  sollicitos  reddit  et  diligentes 
officiorum".  The  practical  interests  cut  off  the  fatalistic  consequences 
of  logic  (which,  however,  in  spite  of  everything  occasionally  did 
break  through). 

But,  on  the  other  hand,  the  content  of  ideas  of  a  religion  is,  as 
Calvinism  shows,  far  more  important  than  William  James  {Varieties 
of  Religious  Experience,  1902,  p.  444  f.)  is  inclined  to  admit.  The 
significance  of  the  rational  element  in  religious  metaphysics  is  shown 
in  classical  form  by  the  tremendous  influence  which  especially  the 
logical  structure  of  the  Calvinistic  concept  of  God  exercised  on'  life. 
If  the  God  of  the  Puritans  has  influenced  history  as  hardly  another 
before  or  since,  it  is  principally  due  to  the  attributes  which  the  power 
of  thought  had  given  him.  James's  pragmatic  valuation  of  the  signi- 
ficance of  religious  ideas  according  to  their  influence  on  life  is  inci- 



dentally  a  true  child  of  the  world  of  ideas  of  the  Puritan  home  of  that 
eminent  scholar.  The  religious  experience  as  such  is  of  course  irrational, 
like  every  experience.  In  its  highest,  mystical  form  it  is  even  the 
experience  Kax'  i^oxv^,  and,  as  James  has  w^cll  shown,  is  distinguished 
by  its  absolute  inconununicability.  It  has  a  specific  character  and 
appears  as  knowledge,  but  cannot  be  adequately  reproduced  by  means 
of  our  lingual  and  conceptual  apparatus.  It  is  further  true  that  every 
religious  experience  loses  some  of  its  content  in  the  attempt  of  rational 
formulation,  the  further  the  conceptual  formulation  goes,  the  more 
so.  That  is  the  reason  for  many  of  the  tragic  conflicts  of  all  rational 
theology,  as  the  Baptist  sects  of  the  seventeenth  century  already 
knew.  But  that  irrational  element,  which  is  by  no  means  peculiar  to 
religious  experience,  but  applies  (in  different  senses  and  to  different 
degrees)  lo  every  experience,  does  not  prevent  its  being  of  the  greatest 
practical  importance,  of  what  particular  type  the  system  of  ideas  is, 
that  captures  and  moulds  the  immediate  experience  of  religion  in  its 
own  way.  For  from  this  source  develop,  in  times  of  great  influence 
of  the  Church  on  life  and  of  strong  interest  in  dogmatic  considerations 
within  it,  most  of  those  differences  between  the  various  religions  in 
their  ethical  consequences  which  are  of  such  great  practical  importance. 
How  unbelievably  intense,  measured  by  present  standards,  the  dog- 
matic interests  even  of  the  layman  were,  everyone  knows  who  is 
familiar  with  the  historical  sources.  We  can  find  a  parallel  to-day 
only  in  the  at  bottom  equally  superstitious  belief  of  the  modern 
proletariat  in  what  can  be  accomplished  and  proved  by  science. 

67.  Baxter,  The  Saints'  Everlasting  Rest,  I,  p.  6,  answers  to  the 
question:  "Whether  to  make  salvation  our  end  be  not  mercenary 
or  legal?  It  is  properly  mercenary  when  we  expect  it  as  wages  for 
work  done.  .  .  .  Otherwise  it  is  only  such  a  mercenarism  as  Christ 
commandeth  .  .  .  and  if  seeking  Christ  be  mercenary,  I  desire  to  be 
so  mercenary."  Nevertheless,  many  Calvinists  who  are  considered 
orthodox  do  not  escape  falling  into  a  very  crass  sort  of  mercenariness. 
According  to  Bailey,  Praxis  pietatis,  p.  262,  alms  are  a  means  of 
escaping  temporal  punishment.  Other  theologians  urged  the  damned 
to  perform  good  works,  since  their  damnation  might  thereby  become 
somewhat  more  bearable,  but  the  elect  because  God  will  then  not 
only  love  them  without  cause  but  ob  causam,  which  shall  certainly 
sometime  have  its  reward.  The  apologists  have  also  made  certain 
small  concessions  concerning  the  significance  of  good  works  for  the 
degree  of  salvation  (Schneckenburger,  op.  cit.,  p.  loi). 

68.  Here  also  it  is  absolutely  necessary,  in  order  to  bring  out  the 
characteristic  differences,  to  speak  in  terms  of  ideal  types,  thus  in  a 
certain  sense  doing  violence  to  historical  reality.  But  without  this  a 
clear  formulation  would  be  quite  impossible  considering  the  com- 
plexity of  the  material.  In  how  far  the  differences  which  we  here 
draw  as  sharply  as  possible  were  merely  relative,  would  have  to  be 
discussed  separately.  It  is,  of  course,  true  that  the  official  Catholic 

R  233 

The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

doctrine,  even  in  the  Middle  Ages,  itself  set  up  the  ideal  of  a  systematic 
sanctification  of  life  as  a  whole.  But  it  is  just  as  certain  (i)  that  the 
normal  practice  of  the  Church,  directly  on  account  of  its  most  effective 
means  of  discipline,  the  confession,  promoted  the  unsystematic  way 
of  life  discussed  in  the  text,  and  further  (2)  that  the  fundamentally 
rigorous  and  cold  atmosphere  in  which  he  lived  and  the  absolute 
isolation  of  the  Calvinst  were  utterly  foreign  te  mediaeval  lay- 

69.  The  absolutely  fundamental  importance  of  this  factor  will,  as 
has  already  once  been  pointed  out,  gradually  become  clear  in  the 
essays  on  the  Wirtschaftsethik  der  Weltreligionen. 

70.  And  to  a  certain  extent  also  to  the  Lutheran.  Luther  did  not 
wish  to  eliminate  this  last  vestige  of  sacramental  magic. 

"^i.  Compare,  for  instance,  Sedg%vick,  Buss-  und  Gnadenlehre 
(German  by  Roscher,  1689).  The  repentant  man  has  a  fast  rule  to 
which  he  holds  himself  exactly,  ordering  thereby  his  whole  life  and 
conduct  (p.  591).  He  lives  according  to  the  law,  shrewdly,  wakefully, 
and  carefully  (p.  596).  Only  a  permanent  change  in  the  whole  man 
can,  since  it  is  a  result  of  predestination,  cause  this  (p.  852).  True 
repentance  is  always  expressed  in  conduct  (p.  361).  The  difference 
between  only  morally  good  work  and  opera  spiritualia  lies,  as  Hoorn- 
beek  {op.  cit.,  I,  IX,  chap,  ii)  explains,  in  the  fact  that  the  latter  are 
the  results  of  a  regenerate  life  {op.  cit.,  I,  p.  160).  A  continuous 
progress  in  them  is  discernible  which  cap  only  be  achieved  by  the 
supernatural  influence  of  God's  grace  (p.  150).  Salvation  results  from 
the  transformation  of  the  whole  man  through  the  grace  of  God 
(p.  190  f.).  These  ideas  are  common  to  all  Protestantism,  and  are  of 
course  found  in  the  highest  ideals  of  Catholicism  as  well.  But  their 
consequences  could  only  appear  in  the  Puritan  movements  of  worldly 
asceticism,  and  above  all  only  in  those  cases  did  they  have  adequate 
psychological  sanctions . 

72.  The  latter  name  is,  especially  in  Holland,  derived  from  those 
who  modelled  their  lives  precisely  on  the  example  of  the  Bible  (thus 
with  Voet).  Moreover,  the  name  Methodists  occurs  occasionally 
among  the  Puritans  in  the  seventeenth  century. 

,.^73.  For,  as  the  Puritan  preachers  emphasize  (for  instance  Banyan 
in  the  Pharisee  and  the  Publican,  Works  of  the  Puritan  Divines,  p.  126), 
every  single  sin  would  destroy  everything  which  might  have  been 
accumulated  in  the  way  of  merit  by  good  works  in  a  lifetime,  if, 
which  is  unthinkable,  man  were  alone  able  to  accomplish  anything 
which  God  should  necessarily  recognize  as  meritorious,  or  even 
could  live  in  perfection  for  any  length  of  time.  Thus  Puritanism  did 
not  think  as  did  Catholicism  in  terms  of  a  sort  of  account  with  calcu- 
lation of  the  balance,  a  simile  which  was  common  even  in  antiquity, 
but  of  the  definite  alternative  of  grace  or  damnation  held  for  a  life  as 
a  whole.  For  suggestions  of  the  banlt  account  idea  see  note  102  below. 


74.  Therein  lies  the  distinction  from  the  mere  Legality  and  Civility 
which  Bunyan  has  living  as  associates  of  Mr.  Worldly-Wiseman  in 
the  City  called  Morality. 

75.  Chamock,  Self -Examination  {Works  of  the  Puritan  Divines, 
p.  172):  "Reflection  and  knowledge  of  self  is  a  prerogative  of  a 
rational  nature."  Also  the  footnote:  "Cogito,  ergo  sum,  is  the  first 
principle  of  the  new  philosophy." 

76.  This  is  not  yet  the  place  to  discuss  the  relationship  of  the^ 
theology  of  Duns  Scotus  to  certain  ideas  of  ascetic  Protestantism.  It 
never  gained  official  recognition,  but  was  at  best  tolerated  and  at 
times  proscribed.  The  later  specific  repugnance  of  the  Pietists  to 
Aristotelean  philosophy  was  shared  by  Luther,  in  a  somewhat  different 
sense,  and  also  by  Calvin  in  conscious  antagonism  to  Catholicism 
(cf.  Instit.  Christ,  II,  chap,  xii,  p.  4 ;  IV,  chap,  xvii,  p.  24).  The  "primacy 
of  the  will",  as  Kahl  has  put  it,  is  common  to  all  these  movements. 

77.  Thus,  for  instance,  the  article  on  "Asceticism"  in  the  Catholic 
Church  Lexicon  defines  its  meaning  entirely  in  harmony  with  its 
highest  historical  manifestations.  Similarly  Seeberg  in  the  Realenzy- 
klopädie für  protestantische  Theologie  und  Kirche.  For  the  purpose  of 
this  study  we  must  be  allowed  to  use  the  concept  as  we  have  done. 
That  it  can  be  defined  in  other  ways,  more  broadly  as  well  as  more 
narrowly,  and  is  generally  so  defined,  I  am  well  aware. 

78.  In  Hudibras   {ist  Song,   18,    19)  the  Puritans   are   compare(P 
with  the  bare-foot  Franciscans.  A  report  of  the  Genoese  Ambassador, 
Fieschi,  calls  Cromwell's  army  an  assembly  of  monks. 

79.  In  view  of  the  close  relationship  between  otherworldly  monastic  ' 
asceticism  and  active  worldly  asceticism,  which  I  here  expressly 
maintain,  I  am  surprised  to  find  Brentano  {op.  cit.,  p.  134  and  else- 
where) citing  the  ascetic  labour  of  the  monks  and  its  recommendation 
against  me.  His  whole  "Exkurs"  against  me  culminates  in  that.  But 
that  continuity  is,  as  anyone  can  see,  a  fundamental  postulate  of 
my  whole  thesis :  the  Reformation  took  rational  Christian  asceticism 
and  its  methodical  habits  out  of  the  monasteries  and  placed  them  in 
the  service  of  active  life  in  the  world.  Compare  the  following  dis- 
cussion, which  has  not  been  altered. 

80.  So  in  the  many  reports  of  the  trials  of  Puritan  heretics  cited 
in  Neal's  History  of  the  Puritans  and  Crosby's  English  Baptists. 

81.  Sanford,  op.  cit.  (and  both  before  and  after  him  many  others), 
has  found  the  origin  of  the  ideal  of  reserve  in  Puritanism.  Compare 
on  that  ideal  also  the  remarks  of  James  Bryce  on  the  American  college 
in  Vol.  II  of  his  American  Commotizvealth.  The  ascetic  principle  of 
self-control  also  riiade  Puritanism  one  of  the  fathers  of  modern 
military  discipline.  (On  Maurice  of  Orange  as  a  founder  of  modern 
army  organization,  see  Roloff,  Preuss.  Jahrb.,  1903,  III,  p.  255.)  Crom- 
well's Ironsides,  with  cocked  pistols  in  their  hands,  and  approaching 
the  enemy  at  a  brisk  trot  without  shooting,  were  not  the  superiors  of 

The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of   Capitalism 

the  Cavaliers  by  virtue  of  their  fierce  passion,  but,  on  the  contrary, 
through  their  cool  self-control,  which  enabled  their  leaders  always 
to  keep  them  well  in  hand.  The  knightly  storm-attack  of  the  Cavaliers, 
on  the  other  hand,  always  resulted  in  dissolving  their  troops  into 
atoms.  See  Firth,  Cromwell's  Army. 

82.  See  especially  Windelband,  Ueber  Willensfreiheit,  pp.  77  ff, 

83.  Only  not  so  unmixed.  Contemplation,  sometimes  combined 
with  emotionalism,  is  often  combined  with  these  rational  elements. 
But  again  contemplation  itself  is  methodically  regulated. 

84.  According  to  Richard  Baxter  everything  is  sinful  which  is 
contrary  to  the  reason  given  by  God  as  a  norm  of  action.  Not  only 
passions  which  have  a  sinful  content,  but  all  feelings  which  are 
senseless  and  intemperate  as  such.  They  destroy  the  countenance 
and,  as  things  of  the  flesh,  prevent  us  from  rationally  directing  all 
action  and  feeling  to  God,  and  thus  insult  Him.  Compare  what  is 
said  of  the  sinfulness  of  anger  {Christian  Directory,  second  edition, 
1698,  p.  285.  Tauler  is  öited  on  p.  287).  On  the  sinfulness  of  anxiety, 
Ebenda,  I,  p.  287.  That  it  is  idolatry  if  our  appetite  is  made  the  "rule 
or  measure  of  eating"  is  maintained  very  emphatically  (op.  cit.,  I, 
pp.  310,  316,  and  elsewhere).  In  such  discussions  reference  is  made 
everywhere  to  the  Proverbs  and  also  to  Plutarch's  De  tranquilitate 
Animi,  afid  not  seldom  to  ascetic  writings  of  the  Middle  Ages:  St. 
Bernard,  Bonaventura,  and  others.  The  contrast  to  "who  does  not 
love  wine,  women,  and  song  .  .  ."  could  hardly  be  more  sharply 
drawn  than  by  the  extension  of  ''  ''^a  of  idolatry  to  all  sensuous 
pleasures,  so  far  as  they  are  rf  vy  hygienic  considerations, 
in  which  case  they  (like  .  .ihese  limits,  but  also  other 
recreations)  are  permissible.  L  "^^  Thapter  V)  for  further  dis- 
cussion. Please  note  that  the'  >  i<.:d  to  here  and  elsewhere 
are  neither  dogmatic  nor  edfi}  \  .iKS,  but  grew  out  of  practical 
ministry,  and  thus  give  a  good  picture  of  the  direction  which  its 
influence  took. 

85.  I  should  regret  it  if  any  evaluation  of  one  or  the  other  form 
of  religion  should  be  read  into  this  discussion.  We  are  not  concerned 
with  that  here.  It  is  only  a  question  of  the  influence  of  certain  things 
which,  from  a  purely  religious  point  of  view,  are  perhaps  incidental, 
but  important  for  practical  conduct. 

86.  On  this,  see  especially  the  article  "Moralisten,  englische",  by 
E.  Troeltsch,  in  the  Realenzyklopädie  für  protestantische  Theologie 
und  Kirche,  third  edition. 

87.  How  much  influence  quite  definite  religious  ideas  and  situations, 
which  seem  to  be  historical  accidents,  have  had  is  shown  unusually 
clearly  by  the  fact  that  in  the  circles  of  Pietism  of  a  Reformed  origin 
the  lack  of  monasteries  was  occasionally  directly  regretted,  and  that 
the  communistic  experiments  of  Labadie  and  others  were  simply  a 
substitute  for  monastic  life. 



88.  As  early  even  as  several  confessions  of  the  time  of  the  Refor- 
mation. Even  Ritschl  {Pietismus,  I,  p.  258  f.)  does  not  deny,  although 
he  looks  upon  the  later  development  as  a  deterioration  of  the  ideas 
of  the  Reformation,  that,  for  instance,  in  Conf.  Gall.  25,  26,  Conf. 
Belg.  29,  Conf.  Helv.  post,  17,  the  true  Reformed  Church  was  defined 
by  definitely  empirical  attributes,  and  that  to  this  true  Church 
believers  were  not  accounted  without  the  attribute  of  moral  activity. 
(See  above,  note  42.) 

89.  "Bless  God  that  we  are  not  of  the  many"  (Thomas  Adams. 
Works  of  the  Puritan  Divines,  p.  138). 

90.  The  idea  of  the  birthright,  so  important  in  history,  thus 
received  an  important  confiimation  in  England.  "The  firstborn 
which  are  written  in  heaven.  ...  As  the  firstborn  is  not  to  be 
defeated  in  his  inheritance,  and  the  enrolled  names  are  never  to  be 
obliterated,  so  certainly  they  shall  inherit  eternal  life"  (Thomas  Adams, 
Works  of  the  Puritan  Divines,  p.  xiv). 

91.  The  Lutheran  emphasis  on  penitent  grief  is  foreign  to  the  spirit 
of  ascetic  Calvinism,  not  in  theory,  but  definitely  in  practice.  For  it 
is  of  no  ethical  value  to  the  Calvinist;  it  does  not  help  the  damned, 
while  for  those  certain  of  their  election,  their  own  sin,  so  far  as  they 
admit  it  to  themselves,  is  a  symiptom  of  backwardness  in  development. 
Instead  of  repenting  of  it  they  hate  it  and  attempt  to  overcome  it  by 
activity  for  the  glory  of  God.  Compare  the  explanation  of  Howe 
(Cromwell's  chaplain  1656-58)  in  Of  Men's  Enmity  against  God  and 
of  Reconciliation  between  G  ^  Man  {Works  of  English  Puritan 
Divines,  p.  237):  "The  cr  ..ejimity  against  God.  It  is  the 
mind,  therefore,  not  as  spec.  /  .^  ,y,  but  as  practical  and  active 
thatmust  be  renewed",  an  '  econciliation  .  .  .  must  begin  in 
(i)  a  deep  conviction  .  .  ,.  ' .  ner  enmity.  ...  I  have  been 
alienated  from  God.  ...  (2)  (p,. ,.  .  ,iear  and  lively  apprehension  of 
the  monstrous  iniquity  and  wickedness  thereof."  The  hatred  here  is 
that  of  sin,  not  of  the  sinner.  But  as  early  as  the  famous  letter  of  the 
Duchess  Renata  d'Este  (Leonore's  mother)  to  Calvin,  in  which  she 
speaks  of  the  hatred  which  she  would  feel  toward  her  father  and 
husband  if  she  became  convinced  they  belonged  to  the  damned,  is 
shown  the  transfer  to  the  person.  At  the  same  time  it  is  an  example 
of  what  was  said  above  [pp.  104-6]  of  how  the  individual  became 
loosed  from  the  ties  resting  on  his  natural  feelings,  for  which  the  doc- 
trine of  predestination  was  responsible. 

92.  "None  but  those  who  give  evidence  of  being  regenerate  or 
holy  persons  ought  to  be  received  or  counted  fit  members  of  visible 
Churches.  Where  this  is  wanting,  the  very  essence  of  a  Church  is  lost", 
as  the  principle  is  put  by  Owen,  the  Independent-Calvinistic  Vice- 
Chancellor  of  Oxford  under  Cromwell  {Inv.  into  the  Origin  of  Ev.  Ch.). 
Further,  see  the  following  essay  (not  translated  here. — Trans l.'VTOR) . 

93.  See  following  essay. 

The   Protestant   Ethic   and  the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

94.  Cat.  Genev.,  p.  149.  Bailey,  Praxis  pietatis,  p.  125:  "In  life  we 
should  act  as  though  no  one  but  Moses  had  authority  over  us." 

95.  "The  law  appears  to  the  Calvinist  as  an  ideal  norm  of  action. 
It  oppresses  the  Lutheran  because  it  is  for  him  unattainable."  In  the 
Lutheran  catechism  it  stands  at  the  beginning  in  order  to  arouse  the 
necessary  humility,  in  the  Reformed  catechism  it  generally  stands  after 
the  Gospel.  The  Calvinists  accused  the  Lutherans  of  having  a  "virtual 
reluctance  to  becoming  holy"  (Möhler),  while  the  Lutherans  accused 
the  Calvinists  of  an  "unfree  servitude  to  the  law",  and  of  arrogance. 

96.  Studies  and  Reflections  of  the  Great  Rebellion,  pp.  79  f. 

97.  Among  them  the  Song  of  Songs  is  especially  noteworthy. 
It  was  for  the  most  part  simply  ignored  by  the  Puritans.  Its  Oriental 
eroticism  has  influenced  the  development  of  certain  types  of  religion, 
such  as  that  of  St.  Bernard. 

98.  On  the  necessity  of  this  self-observation,  see  the  sermon  of 
Charnock,  already  referred  to,  on  2  Cor.  xiii.  5,  Works  of  the  Puritan 
Divines,  pp.  161  ff. 

99.  Most  of  the  theological  moralists  recommended  it.  Thus 
Baxter,  Christian  Directory,  II,  pp.  77  ff.,  who,  however,  does  not 
gloss  over  its  dangers. 

100.  Moral  book-keeping  has,  of  course,  been  widespread  elsewhere. 
But  the  emphasis  which  was  placed  upon  it  as  the  sole  means  of 
knowledge  of  the  eternal  decree  of  salvation  or  damnation  was  lacking, 
and  with  it  the  most  important  psychological  sanction  for  care  and 
exactitude  in  this  calculation. 

xoi.  This  was  the  significant  difference  from  other  attitudes  which 
were  superficially  similar. 

102.  Baxter  {Saints'  Everlasting  Rest,  chap,  xii)  explains  God's 
invisibility  with  the  remark  that  just  as  one  can  carry  on  profitable 
trade  with  an  invisible  foreigner  through  correspondence,  so  is  it 
possible  by  means  of  holy  commerce  with  an  invisible  God  to  get 
possession  of  the  one  priceless  pearl.  These  commercial  similes 
rather  than  the  forensic  ones  customary  with  the  older  moralists  and 
the  Lutherans  are  thoroughly  characteristic  of  Puritanism,  which  in 
effect  makes  man  buy  his  own  salvation.  Compare  further  the  follow- 
ing passage  from  a  sermon:  "We  reckon  the  value  of  a  thirtg  by  that 
which  a  wise  man  will  give  for  it,  who  is  not  ignorant  of  it  nor  under 
necessity.  Christ,  the  Wisdom  of  God,  gave  Himself,  His  own  precious 
blood,  to  redeem  souls,  and  He  knew  what  they  were  and  had  no 
need  of  them"  (Matthew  Henry,  The  Worth  of  the  Soul,  Works  of 
the  Puritan  Divines,  p.  313). 

103.  In  contrast  to  that,  Luther  himself  said:  "Weeping  goes 
before  action  and  suffering  excells  all  accomplishment"  (Weinen  geht 
vor  Wirken  und  Leiden  übertrifft  alles  tun). 

104.  This  is  also  shown  most  clearly  in  the  development  of  the 
ethical  theory  of  Lutheranism.  On  this  see  Hoennicke,  Studien  zur 



altprotestantischen  Ethik  (Berlin,  1902),  and  the  instructive  review  of 
it  by  E.  Troeltsch,  Gott.  Gel.  Anz.,  1902,  No,  8.  The  approach  of 
the  Lutheran  doctrine,  especially  to  the  older  orthodox  Calvinistic, 
was  in  form  often  very  close.  But  the  difference  of  religious  back- 
ground was  always  apparent.  In  order  to  establish  a  connection 
between  morality  and  faith,  Melanchthon  had  placed  the  idea  of 
repentance  in  the  foreground.  Repentance  through  the  law  must 
precede  faith,  but  good  works  must  follow  it,  otherwise  it  cannot 
be  the  truly  justifying  faith — almost  a  Puritan  formula.  Melanchthon 
admitted  a  certain  degree  of  perfection  to  be  attainable  on  earth.  He 
had,  in  fact,  originally  taught  that  justification  was  given  in  order  to 
make  men  capable  of  good  works,  and  in  increasing  perfection  lay 
at  least  the  relative  degree  of  blessedness  which  faith  could  give  in 
this  world.  Also  later  Lutheran  theologians  held  that  good  works  are 
the  necessary  fruits  of  faith,  that  faith  results  in  a  new  external  life, 
just  as  the  Reformed  preachers  did.  The  question  in  what  good  works 
consist  Melanchthon,  and  especially  the  later  Lutherans,  answered 
more  and  more  by  reference  to  the  law.  There  remained  of  Luther's 
original  doctrines  only  the  lesser  degree  of  seriousness  with  which 
the  Bible,  especially  the  particular  norms  of  the  Old  Testament,  was 
taken.  The  decalogue  remained,  as  a  codification  of  the  most  im- 
portant ideas  of  the  natural  moral  law,  the  essential  norm  of  human 
action.  But  there  was  no  firm  link  connecting  its  legal  validity  with 
the  more  and  more  strongly  emphasized  importance  of  faith  for 
justification,  because  this  faith  (see  above)  had  a  fundamentally 
different  psychological  character  from  the  Calvinistic. 

The  true  Lutheran  standpoint  of  the  early  period  had  to  be 
abandoned  by  a  Church  which  looked  upon  itself  as  an  institution 
for  salvation.  But  another  had  not  been  found.  Especially  was  it 
impossible,  for  fear  of  losing  their  dogmatic  foundation  (sola  fide!), 
to  accept  the  ascetic  rationalization  of  conduct  as  the  moral  task  of 
the  individual.  For  there  was  no  motive  to  give  the  idea  of  proof 
such  a  significance  as  it  attained  in  Calvinism  through  the  doctrine 
of  predestination.  Moreover,  the  magical  interpretation  of  the  sacra- 
ments, combined  with  the  lack  of  this  doctrine,  especially  the  asso- 
ciation of  the  regeneratio,  or  at  least  its  beginning  with  baptism, 
necessarily,  assuming  as  it  did  the  universality  of  grace,  hindered 
the  development  of  methodical  morality.  For  it  weakened  the  contrast 
between  the  state  of  nature  and  the  state  of  grace,  especially  when 
combined  with  the  strong  Lutheran  emphasis  on  original  sin.  No  less 
important  was  the  entirely  forensic  interpretation  of  the  act  of  justi- 
fication which  assumed  that  God's  decrees  might  be  changed  through 
the  influence  of  particular  acts  of  repentance  of  the  converted  sinner. 
And  that  was  just  the  element  to  which  Melanchthon  gave  increasing 
emphasis.  The  whole  development  of  his  doctrine,  which  gave 
increasing  weight  to  repentance,  was  intimately  connected  with  his 


The   ProteMant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

profession   of    the   freedom   of  the  will.   That  was   what   primarily 
determined  the-  uwrnethodical  character  of  Lutheran  conduct. 

Particular  ac  ts  of  grace  for  particular  sins,  not  the  development 
of  an  aristoci'ac"./  of  saints  creating  the  certainty  of  their  own  salvation, 
was  the  nece^ssary  form  salvation  took  for  the  average  Lutheran,  as 
the  retention  c^f  the  confession  proves.  Thus  it  could  develop  neither 
a  morality  free  from  the  law  nor  a  rational  asceticism  in  terms  of  the 
law.  Rather  the  law  remained  in  an  unorganic  proximity  to  faith  as 
an  ideal,  and,  moreover,  since  the  strict  dependence  on  the  Bible 
was  avoided  as  sui?gesting  salvation  by  works,  it  remained  uncertain, 
vague,  and,  above  all,  unsystematic  in  its  content.  Their  conduct 
remained,  as  Troelitsch  has  said  of  their  ethical  theory,  a  "sum  of 
mere  beginnings  wh,*^ch  never  quite  materialized";  which,  "taught  in 
particular,  uncertain,  and  unrelated  maxims",  did  not  succeed  in 
"working  out  an  articulate  system  of  conduct",  but  formed  essentially, 
following  the  development  through  which  Luther  himself  (see  above) 
had  gone,  a  resignation  to  things  as  they  were  in  matters  both  small 
and  great.  The  resignation  of  the  Germans  to  foreign  cultures,  their 
rapid  change  of  nationality,  of  which  there  is  so  much  complaint,  is 
clearly  to  be  attributed,  along  with  certain  political  circumstances  in 
the  history  of  the  nation,  in  part  to  the  results  of  this  influence, 
which  still  affects  all  aspects  of  our  life.  The  subjective  assimilation 
of  culture  remained  weak  because  it  took  place  primarily  by  means 
of  a  passive  absorption  of  what  was  authoritatively  presented. 

105.  On  these  points,  see  the  gossipy  book  of  Tholuck,  Vorgeschichte 
des  Rationalismus. 

106.  On  the  quite  different  results  of  the  Mohammedan  doctrine 
of  predestination  (or  rather  predetermination)  and  the  reasons  for 
it,  see  the  theological  disyertation  (Heidelberg)  of  F.  Ullrich,  Die 
Vor  herb  estimmungslehre  im  Islam  u.  Ch.,  19 12.  On  that  of  the  Jan- 
senists,  see  P.  Honigsheim,  op.  cit. 

107.  See  the  following  essay  in  this  collection  (not  translated  here). 

108.  Ritschl,  Geschichte  des  Pietismus,  I,  p.  152,  attempts  to  dis- 
tinguish them  for  the  time  before  Labadie  (only  on  the  basis  of 
examples  from  the  Netherlands)  (i)  in  that  the  Pietists  formed 
conventicles;  (2)  they  held  the  doctrine  of  the  "worthlessness  of 
existence  in  the  flesh"  in  a  "manner  contrary  to  the  Protestant 
interests  in  salvation";  (3)  "the  assurance  of  grace  in  the  tender 
relationship  with  the  Lord  Jesus"  was  sought  in  an  un-Calvinistic 
manner.  The  last  criterion  applies  for  this  early  period  only  to  one 
of  the  cases  with  which  he  deals.  The  idea  of  worthlessness  of  the 
flesh  was  in  itself  a  true  child  of  the  Calvinistic  spirit,  and  only 
where  it  led  to  practical  renunciation  of  the  world  was  it  antagonistic 
to  normal  Protestantism.  The  conventicles,  finally,  had  been  estab- 
lished to  a  certain  extent  (especially  for  catechistic  purposes)  by 
the  Synod  of  Dordrecht  itself.  Of  the  criteria  of  Pietism  analysed 



in  Ritschl's  previous  discussion,  those  worth  considering  are  (i)  the 
greater  precision  with  which  the  letter  of  the  Bible  was  followed  in 
all  external  affairs  of  life,  as  Gisbert  Voet  for  a  time  urged;  (2)  the 
treatment  of  justification  and  reconciliation  with  God,  not  as  ends 
in  themselves,  but  simply  as  means  toward  a  holy  ascetic  life  as  can 
be  seen  perhaps  in  Lodensteyn,but  as  is  also  suggested  by  Melanch- 
thon  [see  above,  note  104] ;  (3)  the  high  value  placed  on  repentance 
as  a  sign  of  true  regeneration,  as  was  first  taught  by  W.  Teellinck; 
(4)  abstention  from  communion  when  unregenerate  persons  partake 
of  it  (of  which  we  shall  speak  in  another  connection).  Connected  with 
that  was  the  formation  of  conventicles  with  a  revival  of  prophecy, 
i.e.  interpretation  of  the  Scriptures  by  laymen,  even  women.  That 
went  beyond  the  limits  set  by  the  canons  of  Dordrecht. 

Those  are  all  things  forming  departures,  sometimes  considerable, 
from  both  the  doctrine  and  practice  of  the  Reformers.  But  compared 
with  the  movements  which  Ritschl  does  not  include  in  his  treatment, 
especially  the  English  Puritans,  they  form,  except  for  No.  3,  only  a 
continuation  of  tendencies  which  lay  in  the  whole  line  of  development 
of  this  religion.  The  objectivity  of  Ritschl's  treatment  suffers  from 
the  fact  that  the  great  scholar  allows  his  personal  attitude  towards 
the  Church  or,  perhaps  better,  religious  policy,  to  enter  in,  and,  in 
his  antipathy  to  all  peculiarly  ascetic  forms  of  religion,  interprets 
any  development  in  that  direction  as  a  step  back  into  Catholicism. 
But,  like  Catholicism,  the  older  Protestantism  included  all  sorts  and 
conditions  of  men.  But  that  did  not  prevent  the  Catholic  Church 
from  repudiating  rigorous  worldly  asceticism  in  the  form  of  Jansenism ; 
just  as  Pietism  repudiated  the  peculiar  Catholic  Quietism  of  the 
seventeenth  century.  From  our  special  view-point  Pietism  differs  not 
in  degree,  but  in  kind  from  Calvinism  only  when  the  increasing  fear 
of  the  world  leads  to  flight  from  ordinary  economic  life  and  the 
formation  of  monastic-communistic  conventicles  (Labadie).  Or, 
which  has  been  attributed  to  certain  extreme  Pietists  by  their  con- 
temporaries, they  were  led  deliberately  to  neglect  worldly  duties  in 
favour  of  contemplation.  This  naturally  happened  with  particular 
frequency  when  contemplation  began  to  assume  the  character  which 
Ritschl  calls  Bemardism,  because  it  suggests  St.  Bernard's  interpre- 
tation of  the  Song  of  Songs:  a  mystical,  emotional  form  of  religion 
seeking  the  unio  mystica  with  an  esoteric  sexual  tinge.  Even  from  the 
view-point  of  religious  psychology  alone  this  is  undoubtedly  some- 
thing quite  different  from  Calvinism,  including  its  ascetic  form 
exemplified  by  men  like  Voet.  Ritschl,  however,  everywhere  attempts 
to  connect  this  quietism  with  the  Pietist  asceticism  and  thus  to  bring 
the  latter  under  the  same  indictment;  in  doing  so  he  puts  his  finger 
on  every  quotation  from  Catholic  mysticism  or  asceticism  which  he 
can  find  in  Pietist  literature.  But  English  and  Dutch  moralists  and 
theologians  who  are  quite  beyond  suspicion   cite   Bernard,   Bona- 


The   Protesia7jt   Ethic   and   the  -  Spirit   of  Capitalism 

Ventura,  and  Thomas  ä  Kempis.  The  relationship  of  all  the  Refor- 
mation Churches  to  the  Catholic  past  was  very  complex  and,  according 
to  the  point  of  view  which  is  emphasized,  one  or  another  appears 
most  closely  related  to  Catholicism  or  certain  sides  of  it. 

109.  The  illuminating  article  on  "Pietism"  by  Mirbt  in  the  third 
edition  of  the  Realenzyklopädie  für  protestantische  Theologie  und 
Kirche,  treats  the  origin  of  Pietism,  leaving  its  Protestant  antecedents 
entirely  on  one  side,  as  a  purely  personal  religious  experience  of 
Spener,  which  is  somewhat  improbable.  As  an  introduction  to  Pietism, 
Gustav  Freytag's  description  in  Bilder  der  deutschen  Vergangenheit 
is  still  worth  reading.  For  the  beginnings  of  English  Pietism  in  the 
contemporary  literature,  compare  W.  Whitaker,  Prima  Institutio 
disciplinaque  pietatis  (1570). 

no.  It  is  well  known  that  this  attitude  made  it  possible  for  Pietism 
to  be  one  of  the  main  forces  behind  the  idea  of  toleration.  At  this 
point  we  may  insert  a  few  remarks  on  that  subject.  In  the  West  its 
historical  origin,  if  we  omit  the  humanistic  indifference  of  the  En- 
lightenment, which  in  itself  has  never  had  great  practical  influence, 
is  to  be  found  in  the  following  principal  sources:  (i)  Purely  political 
expediency  (type:  William  of  Orange).  (2)  Mercantilism  (especially 
clear  for  the  City  of  Amsterdam,  but  also  typical  of  numerous  cities, 
landlords,  and  rulers  who  received  the  members  of  sects  as  valuable 
for  economic  progress).  (3)  The  radical  wing  of  Calvinism.  Pre- 
destination made  it  fundamentally  impossible  for  the  State  really  to 
promote  religion  by  intolerance.  It  could  not  thereby  save  a  single 
soul.  Only  the  idea  of  the  glory  of  God  gave  the  Church  occasion  to 
claim  its  help  in  the  suppression  of  heresy.  Now  the  greater  the 
emphasis  on  the  membership  of  the  preacher,  and  all  those  that 
partook  of  the  communion,  in  the  elect,  the  more  intolerable  became 
the  interference  of  the  State  in  the  appointment  of  the  clergy.  For 
clerical  positions  were  often  granted  as  benefices  to  men  from  the 
universities  only  because  of  their  theological  training,  though  they 
might  be  personally  unregener^te.  In  general,  any  interference  in  the 
affairs  of  the  religious  community  by  those  in  political  power,  whose 
conduct  might  often  be  unsatisfactory,  was  resented.  Reformed 
Pietism  strengthened  this  tendency  by  weakening  the  emphasis  on 
doctrinal  orthodoxy  and  by  gradually  undermining  the  principle  of 
extra  ecclesiam  nulla  salus. 

Calvin  had  regarded  the  subjection  of  the  damned  to  the  divine 
supervision  of  the  Church  as  alone  consistent  with  the  glory  of 
God ;  in  New  England  the  attempt  was  made  to  constitute  the  Church 
as  an  aristocracy  of  proved  saints.  Even  the  radical  Independents, 
however,  repudiated  every  interference  of  temporal  or  any  sort  of 
hierarchical  powers  with  the  proof  of  salvation  which  was  only 
possible  within  the  individual  community.  The  idea  that  the  glory 
of  God  requii'es  the  subjection  of  the  damned  to  the  discipline  of 



the  Church  was  gradually  superseded  by  the  other  idea,  which  was 
present  from,  the  beginning  apd  became  gradually  more  prominent, 
that  it  was  an  insult  to  His  glory  to  partake  of  the  Communion  with 
one  rejected  by  God.  That  necessarily  led  to  voluntarism,  for  it  led 
to  the  believers'  Church  the  religious  community  which  included 
only  the  twice-born.  Calvinistic  Baptism,  to  which,  for  instance,  the 
leader  of  the  Parliament  of  Saints  Praisegod  Barebones  belonged, 
drew  the  consequences  of  this  line  of  thought  with  great  emphasis. 
Cromwell's  army  upheld  the  liberty  of  conscience  and  the  parliament 
of  saints  even  advocated  the  separation  of  Church  and  State,  because 
its  members  were  good  Pietists,  thus  on  positive  religious  grounds. 
(4)  The  Baptist  sects,  which  we  shall  discuss  later,  have  from  the 
beginning  of  their  history  most  strongly  and  consistently  maintained 
the  principle  that  only  those  personally  regenerated  could  be  admitted 
to  the  Church.  Hence  they  repudiated  every  conception  of  the  Church 
as  an  institution  {Anstalt)  and  every  interference  of  the  temporal 
power.  Here  also  it  was  for  positive  religious  reasons  that  uncondi- 
tional toleration  was  advocated. 

The  first  man  who  stood  out  for  absolute  toleration  and  the  separa- 
tion of  Church  and  State,  almost  a  generation  before  the  Baptists 
and  two  before  Roger  Williams,  was  probably  John  Browne.  The 
first  declaration  of  a  Church  group  in  this  sense  appears  to  be  the 
resolution  of  the  English  Baptists  in  Amsterdam  of  1612  or  1613: 
"The  magistrate  is  not  to  middle  with  religion  or  matters  ,of  con- 
science .  .  .  because  Christ  is  the  King  and  Law-giver  of  the  Church 
and  conscience."  The  first  official  document  of  a  Church  which 
claimed  the  positive  protection  of  liberty  of  conscience  by  the  State 
as  a  right  was  probably  Article  44  of  the  Confession  of  the  Particular 
Baptists  of  1644. 

Let  it  be  emphatically  stated  again  that  the  idea  sometimes  brought 
forward,  that  toleration  as  such  was  favourable  to  capitalism,  is 
naturally  quite  wrong.  Religious  toleration  is  neither  peculiar  to 
modern  times  nor  to  the  West.  It  has  ruled  in  China,  in  India,  in 
the  great  empires  of  the  Near  East  in  Hellenistic  times,  in  the  Roman 
Empire  and  the  Mohammedan  Empires  for  long  periods  to  a  degree 
only  limited  by  reasons  of  political  expediency  (which  form  its  limits 
to-day  also !)  which  was  attained  nowhere  in  the  world  in  the  sixteenth 
and  seventeenth  centuries.  Moreover,  it  was  least  strong  in  those 
areas  which  were  dominated  by  Puritanism,  as,  for  instance,  Holland 
and  Zeeland  in  their  period  of  political  and  economic  expansion  or 
in  Puritan  old  or  New  England.  Both  before  and  after  the  Reformation, 
religious  intolerance  was  peculiarly  characteristic  of  the  Occident  as 
of  the  Sassanian  Empire.  Similarly,  it  has  prevailed  in  China,  Japan, 
and  India  at  certain  particular  times,  though  mostly  for  political 
reasons.  Thus  toleration  as  such  certainly  has  nothing  whatever  to 
do  with  capitalism.  The  real  question  is,  Who  benefited  by  it?  Of  the 

The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

consequences  of  the  believers'  Church  we  shall  speak  further  in  the 
following  article. 

111.  This  idea  is  illustrated  in  its  practical  application  by  Crom- 
well's tryers,  the  examiners  of  candidates  for  the  position  of  preacher. 
They  attempted  to  ascertain  not  only  the  knowledge  of  theology,  but 
also  the  subjective  state  of  grace  of  the  candidate.  See  also  the 
following  article. 

112.  The  characteristic  Pietistic  distrust  of  Aristotle  and  classical 
philosophy  in  general  is  suggested  in  Calvin  himself  (compare  Instit. 
Christ,  II,  chap,  ii,  p.  4;  III,  chap,  xxiii,  p.  5;  IV,  chap,  xvii,  p.  24). 
Luther  in  his  early  days  distrusted  it  no  less,  l?ut  that  was  later  changed 
by  the  humanistic  influence  (especially  of  Melanchthon)  and  the  urgent 
need  of  ammunition  for  apologetic  purposes.  That  everything  neces- 
sary for  salvation  was  contained  in  the  Scriptures  plainly  enough  for 
even  the  untutored  was,  of  course,  taught  by  the  Westminster  Confes- 
sion (chap.i,  No.  7.),  in  conformity  with  the  whole  Protestant  tradition. 

113.  The  official  Churches  protested  against  this,  as,  for  example, 
in  the  shorter  catechism  of  the  Scotch  Presbyterian  Church  of  1648, 
sec.  vii.  Participation  of  those  not  members  of  the  same  family  in 
family  devotions  was  forbidden  as  interference  with  the  prerogatives 
of  the  office.  Pietism,  like  every  ascetic  community-forming  move- 
ment, tended  to  loosen  the  ties  of  the  individual  with  domestic 
patriarchalism,  with  its  interest  in  the  prestige  of  office. 

114.  We  are  here  for  good  reasons  intentionally  neglecting  dis- 
cussion of  the  psychological,  in  the  technical  sense  of  the  word, 
aspect  of  these  religious  phenomena,  and  even  its  terminology  has 
been  as  far  as  possible  avoided.  The  firmly  established  results  of 
psychology,  including  psychiatry,  do  not  as  present  go  far  enough 
to  make  them  of  use  for  the  purposes  of  the  historical  investigation 
of  our  problems  without  prejudicing  historical  judgments.  The  use  of 
its  terminology  would  only  form  a  temptation  to  hide  phenomena 
which  were  immediately  understandable,  or  even  sometimes  trivial, 
behind  a  veil  of  foreign  words,  and  thus  give  a  false  impression  of 
scientific  exactitude,  such  as  is  unfortunately  typical  of  Lamprecht. 
For  a  more  serious  attempt  to  make  use  of  psychological  concepts 
in  the  interpretation  of  certain  historical  mass  phenomena,  see  W. 
Hellpach,  Grundlinien  zu  einer  Psychologie  der  Hysterie,  chap,  xii,  as 
well  as  his  Nervosität  und  Kultur.  I  cannot  here  attempt  to  explain 
that  in  my  opinion  even  this  many-sided  writer  has  been  harmfully 
influenced  by  certain  of  Lamprecht's  theories.  How  completely  worth- 
less, as  compared  with  the  older  literature,  Lamprecht's  schematic 
treatment  of  Pietism  is  (in  Vol.  VII  of  the  Deutsche  Geschichte) 
everyone  knows  who  has  the  slightest  acquaintance  with  the  literature. 

115.  Thus  with  the  adherents  of  Schortinghuis's  Innige  Christen- 
dorn.  In  the  history  of  religion  it  goes  back  to  the  verse  about  the 
servant  of  God  in  Isaiah  and  the  22nd  Psalm. 



ii6.  This  appeared  occasionally  in  Dutch  Pietism  and  then  under 
the  influence  of  Spinoza. 

117.  Labadie,  Teersteegen,  etc. 

118.  Perhaps  this  appears  most  clearly  when  he  (Spener !)  disputes 
the  authority  of  the  Government  to  control  the  conventicles  except 
in  cases  of  disorder  and  abuses,  because  it  concerns  a  fundamental 
right  of  Christians  guaranteed  by  apostolic  authority  {Theologische 
Bedenken,  II,  pp.  81  f.).  That  is,  in  principle,  exactly  the  Puritan  stand- 
point regarding  the  relations  of  the  individual  to  authority  and  the 
extent  to  which  individual  rights,  which  follow  ex  jure  divino  and 
are  therefore  inalienable,  are  valid.  Neither  this  heresy,  nor  the  one 
mentioned  farther  on  in  the  text,  has  escaped  Ritschl   (Pietismus, 

II,  pp.  115,  157).  However  unhistorical  the  positivistic  (not  to  say 
philistine)  criticism  to  which  he  has  subjected  the  idea  of  natural 
rights  to  which  we  are  nevertheless  indebted  for  not  much  less  than 
everything  which  even  the  most  extreme  reactionary  prizes  as  his 
sphere  of  individual  freedom,  we  naturally  agree  entirely  with  him 
that  in  both  cases  an  organic  relationship  to  Spener's  Lutheran 
standpoint  is  lacking. 

The  conventicles  (collegia  pietitatis)  themselves,  to  which  Spener's 
famous  pia  desideria  gave  the  theoretical  basis,  and  which  he  founded 
in  practice,  corresponded  closely  in  essentials  to  the  English  pro- 
phesyings  which  were  first  practised  in  John  of  Lasco's  London 
Bible  Classes  (1547),  and  after  that  were  a  regular  feature  of  all 
forms  of  Puritanism  which  revolted  against  the  authority '  of  the 
Church.  Finally,  he  bases  his  well-known  repudiation  of  the  Church 
discipline  of  Geneva  on  the  fact  that  its  natural  executors,  the  third 
estate  (status  oeconomicus :  the  Christian  laity),  were  not  even  a  part 
of  the  organization  of  the  Lutheran  Church.  On  the  other  hand,  in 
the  discussion  of  excommunication  the  lay  members'  recognition  of 
the  Consistorium  appointed  by  the  prince  as  representatives  of  the 
third  estate  is  weakly  Lutheran. 

119.  The  name  Pietism  in  itself,  which  first  occurs  in  Lutheran 
territory,  indicates  that  in  the  opinion  of  contemporaries  it  was 
characteristic  of  it  that  a  methodical  business  was  made  out  of  pietas. 

120.  It  is,  of  course,  granted  that  though  this  type  of  motivation 
was  primarily  Calvinistic  it  is  not  exclusively  such.  It  is  also  found 
with  special  frequency  in  some  of  the  oldest  Lutheran  Church 

121.  In  the  sense  of  Heb.  v.  13,  14.  Compare  Spener,  Theologische 
Bedenken,  I,  p.  306. 

122.  Besides  Bailey  and  Baxter  (see  Consilia  theologtca,  III,  6,  i ; 
I,  47;  3,  6),  Spener  was  especially  fond  of  Thomas  ä  Kempis,  and 
even  more  of  Tauler — whom  he  did  not  entirely  understand  (op.  cit., 

III,  61,  I,  No.  i).  For  detailed  discussion  of  the  latter,  see  op.  cit., 
I,  I,  I  No.  7.  For  him  Luther  is  derived  directly  from  Tauler. 

The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

123.  See  in  Ritschl,  op.  cit.,  II,  p.  113.  He  did  not  accept  the 
repentance  of  the  later  Pietists  (and  of  Luther)  as  the  sole  trust- 
worthy indication  of  true  conversion  (Theologische  Bedenken,  III, 
p.  476).  On  sanctification  as  the  fruit  of  thankfulness  in  the  belief  of 
forgiveness,  a  typically  Lutheran  idea,  see  passages  cited  by  Ritschl, 
op.  cit.,  p.  115,  note  2.  On  the  certitudo  salutis  see,  on  the  one  hand, 
Theologische  Bedenken,  I,  p.  324:  "true  belief  is  not  so  much  felt 
emotionally  as  known  by  its  fruits"  (love  and  obedience  to  God);  on 
the  other.  Theologische  Bedenken,  I,  p.  335  f.:  "As  far  as  anxiety  that 
they  should  be  assured  of  salvation  and  grace  is  concerned,  it  is  better 
to  trust  to  our  books,  the  Lutheran,  than  to  the  English  writings."  But  on 
the  nature  of  sanctification  he  was  at  one  with  the  English  view-point. 

124.  Of  this  the  religious  account  books  which  A.  H.  Francke 
recommended  were  external  symptoms.  The  methodical  practice  and 
habit  of  virtue  was  supposed  to  cause  its  growth  and  the  separation 
of  good  from  evil.  This  is  the  principal  theme  of  Francke 's  book. 
Von  des  Christen  Vollkommenheit. 

125.  The  difference  between  this  rational  Pietist  belief  in  Pro- 
vidence and  its  orthodox  interpretation  is  shown  characteristically 
in  the  famous  controversy  between  the  Pietists  of  Halle  and  the 
orthodox  Lutheran  Löscher.  Löscher  in  his  Timotheus  Verinus  goes 
so  far  as  to  contrast  everything  that  is  attained  by  human  action 
with  the  decrees  of  Providence.  On  the  other  hand,  Francke 's  con- 
sistent view  was  that  the  sudden  flash  of  clarity  over  what  is  to  happen, 
which  comes  as  a  result  of  quiet  waiting  for  decision,  is  to  be  con- 
sidered as  "God's  hint",  quite  analogous  to  the  Quaker  psychology, 
and  corresponding  to  the  general  ascetic  idea  that  rational  methods 
are  the  way  to  approach  nearer  to  God.  It  is  true  that  Zinzendorf, 
who  in  one  most  vital  decision  entrusted  the  fate  of  his  community 
to  lot,  was  far  from  Francke 's  form  of  the  belief  in  Providence. 
Spener,  Theologische  Bedenken,  I,  p.  314,  referred  to  Tauler  for  a 
description  of  the  Christian  resignation  in  which  one  should  bow  to 
the  divine  will,  and  not  cross  it  by  hasty  action  on  one's  own  respon- 
sibility, essentially  the  position  of  Francke.  Its  effectiveness  as  com- 
pared to  Puritanism  is  essentially  weakened  by  the  tendency  of 
Pietism  to  seek  peace  in  this  world,  as  can  everywhere  be  clearly 
seen.  "First  righteousness,  then  peace",  as  was  said  in  opposition  to 
it  in  1904  by  a  leading  Baptist  (G.  White  in  an  address  to  be  referred 
to  later)  in  formulating  the  ethical  programme  of  his  denomination 
(Baptist  Handbook,  1904,  p.  107). 

126.  Lect.  paraenet.,  IV,  p.  271. 

127.  Ritschl's  criticism  is  directed  especially  against  this  continually 
recurrent  idea.  See  the  work  of  Francke  containing  the  doctrine 
which  has  already  been  referred  to.  (See  note  124  above.) 

128.  It  occurs  also  among  English  Pietists  who  were  not  adherents 
of  predestination,  for  instance  Goodwin.  On  him  and  others  compare 



Heppe,  Geschichte  des  Pietistniis  in  der  reformierten  Kirche  (Leiden, 
1879),  a  book  which  even  with  Ritschl's  standard  work  cannot  yet 
be  dispensed  with  for  England,  and  here  and  there  also  for  the 
Netherlands.  Even  in  the  nineteenth  century  in  the  Netherlands  Köhler, 
Die  Niederl.  ref.  Kirche,  was  asked  about  the  exact  time  of  his  rebirth. 

129.  They  attempted  thus  to  counteract  the  lax  results  of  the 
Lutheran  doctrine  of  the  recoverability  of  grace  (especially  the  very 
frequent  conversion  in  extremis). 

130.  Against  the  corresponding  necessity  of  knowing  the  day  and 
hour  of  conversion  as  an  indispensable  sign  of  its  genuineness.  See 
Spener,  Theologische  Bedenken,  II,  6,  i,  p.  197.  Repentance  was  as 
little  known  to  him  as  Luther's  terror  es  conscientice  to  Melanchthon. 

131.  At  the  same  time,  of  course,  the  anti-authoritarian  interpre- 
tation of  the  universal  priesthood,  typical  of  all  asceticism,  played  a 
part.  Occasionally  the  minister  was  advised  to  delay  absolution  until 
proof  was  given  of  genuine  repentance  which,  as  Ritschl  rightly  says, 
was  in  principle  Calvinistic. 

132.  The  essential  points  for  our  purposes  are  most  easily  found 
in  Plitt,  Zinzendorf's  Theologie  (3  vols.,  Gotha,  1869),  I,  pp.  325, 
345,  381,  412.  429.  433  f-,  444.  448;  II,  pp.  372,  381,  385,  409  f.; 
Ill,  pp.  131,  167,  176.  Compare  also  Bernh.  Becker,  Zinzendorf  und 
sein  Christentum  (Leipzig,  1900),  Book  III,  chap.  iii. 

133.  "In  no  religion  do  we  recognize  as  brothers  those  who  have 
not  been  washed  in  the  blood  of  Christ  and  continue  thoroughly 
changed  in  the  sanctity  of  the  Spirit.  We  recognize  no  ■evident 
( =  visible)  Church  of  Christ  except  where  the  Word  of  God  is 
taught  in  purity  and  where  the  members  live  in  holiness  as  children 
of  God  following  its  precepts."  The  last  sentence,  it  is  true,  is  taken 
from  Luther's  smaller  catechism  but,  as  Ritschl  points  out,  there  it 
serves  to  answer  the  question  how  the  Name  of  God  shall  be  made 
holy,  while  here  it  serves  to  delimit  the  Church  of  the  saints. 

134.  It  is  true  that  he  only  considered  the  Augsburg  Confession 
f^  be  a  suitable  document  of  the  Lutheran  Christian  faith  if,  as  he 
expressed  it  in  his  disgusting  terminology,  a  Wundbriihe  had  been 
poured  upon  it.  To  read  him  is  an  act  of  penitence  because  his 
language,  in  its  insipid  melting  quality,  is  even  worse  than  the 
frightful  Christo-turpentine  of  F.  T.  Vischer  (in  his  polemics 
with  the  Munich  christoterpe) . 

135.  See  Plitt,  op.  cit.,l,p.  346.  Even  more  decisive  is  the  answer, 
quoted  in  Plitt,  op.  cit.,  I,  p.  381,  to  the  question  whether  good  works 
are  necessary  to  salvation.  "Unnecessary  and  harmful  to  the  attain- 
ment of  salvation,  but  after  salvation  is  attained  so  necessary  that  he 
who  does  not  perform  them  is  not  really  saved."  Thus  here  also  they 
are  not  the  cause  of  salvation,  but  the  sole  means  of  recognizing  it. 

136.  For  instance,  through  those  caricatures  of  Christian  freedom 
which  Ritschl,  op.  cit.,  Ill,  p.  381,  so  severely  criticizes. 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

137.  Above  all  in  the  greater  emphasis  on  the  idea  of  retributive 
punishment  in  the  doctrine  of  salvation,  which,  after  the  repudiation 
of  his  missionary  attempts  by  the  American  sects,  he  made  the  basis 
of  his  method  of  sanctification.  After  that  he  places  the  retention  of 
childlikeness  and  the  virtues  of  humble  resignation  in  the  foreground 
as  the  end  of  Hermhut  asceticism,  in  sharp  contrast  to  the  inclination 
of  his  own  community  to  an  asceticism  closely  analogous  to  the 

138.  Which,  however,  had  its  limits.  For  this  reason  alone  it  is 
wrong  to  attempt  to  place  Zinzendorf's  religion  'in.  a  scheme  of  social 
psychological  evolutionary  stages,  as  Lamprecht  does.  Furthermore, 
however,  his  whole  religious  attitude  is  influenced  by  nothing  more 
strongly  than  the  fact  that  he  was  a  Count  with  an  outlook  funda- 
mentally feudal.  Further,  the  emotional  side  of  it  would,  from  the 
point  of  view  of  social  psychology,  fit  just  as  well  into  the  period  of 
the  sentimental  decadence  of  chivalry  as  in  that  of  sensitiveness.  If 
social  psychology  gives  any  clue  to  its  difference  from  West  European 
rationalism,  it  is  most  likely  to  be  found  in  the  patriarchal  tradi- 
tionalism of  Eastern  Germany. 

139.  This  is  evident  from  Zinzendorf's  controversy  with  Dippel 
just  as,  after  his  death,  the  doctrines  of  the  Synod  of  1764  bring  out 
the  character  of  the  Hermhut  community  as  an  institution  for  salva- 
tion. See  Ritschl's  criticism,  op.  cit.,  Ill,  p.  443  f. 

140.  Compare,  for  instance,  §§151,  153,  160.  That  sanctification 
may  not  take  place  in  spite  of  true  penitence  and  the  forgiveness  of 
sins  is  evident,  especially  from  the  remarks  on  p.  311,  and  agrees 
with  the  Lutheran  doctrine  of  salvation  just  as  it  is  in  disagreement 
with  that  of  Calvinism  (and  Methodism). 

141.  Compare  Zinzendorf's  opinion,  cited  in  Plitt,  op.  cit.,  II, 
p.  345.  Similarly  Spangenberg,  Idea  Fidei,  p.  325. 

142.  Compare,  for  instance,  Zinzendorf's  remark  on  Matt.  xx.  28, 
cited  by  Plitt,  op.  cit.,  Ill,  p.  131 :  "When  I  see  a  man  to  whom  God 
has  given  a  great  gift,  I  rejoice  and  gladly  avail  myself  of  the  gift. 
But  when  I  note  that  he  is  not  content  with  his  own,  but  wishes  to 
increase  it  further,  I  consider  it  the  beginning  of  that  person's  ruin." 
In  other  words,  Zinzendorf  denied,  especially  in  his  conversation 
with  John  Wesley  in  1743,  that  there  could  be  progress  in  holiness, 
because  he  identified  it  with  justification  and  found  it  only  in  the 
emotional  relationship  to  Christ  (Plitt,  I,  p.  413).  In  place  of  the 
sense  of  being  the  instrument  of  God  comes  the  possession  of  the 
divine;  mysticism,  not  asceticism  (in  the  sense  to  be  discussed  in 
the  introduction  to  the  following  essays)  (not  here  translated. — 
Translator's  Note).  As  is  pointed  out  there,  a  present,  worldly 
state  of  mind  is  naturally  what  the  Puritan  really  seeks  for  also.  But 
for  him  the  state  which  he  interprets  as  the  certitudo  salutis  is  the 
feeling  of  being  an  active  instrument, 



143.  But  which,  precisely  on  account  of  this  mystical  tendency, 
did  not  receive  a  consistent  ethical  justification.  Zinzendorf  rejects 
Luther's  idea  of  divine  worship  in  the  calling  as  the  decisive  reason 
for  performing  one's  duty  in  it.  It  is  rather  a  return  for  the  "Saviour's 
loyal  services"  (Pütt,  II,  p.  411). 

144.  His  saying  that  "a  reasonable  man  should  not  be  without 
faith  and  a  believer  should  not  be  unreasonable"  is  well  known.  See 
his  Sokrates,  d.  i.  Aufrichtige  Anzeige  verschiedener  nicht  sowohl 
unbekannter  als  vielmehr  in  Abfall  geratener  Hauptwahrheiten  (i'jz'^). 
Further,  his  fondness  for  such  authors  as  Bayle. 

145.  The   decided    propensity   of   Protestant   asceticism   for   em- 
piricism, rationalized  on  a  mathematical  basis,  is  well  known,  but 
cannot  be  further  analysed  here.  On  the  development  of  the  sciences 
in  the  direction  of  mathematically  rationalized  exact  investigation, 
the  philosophical  motives  of  it  and  their  contrast  to  Bacon's  view- 
point, see  Windelband,  Geschichte  der  Philosophie,  pp.  305-7,  especially 
the  remark  on   p.   305,  which  rightly  denies   that  modern  natural 
science  can  be  understood  as  the  product  of  material  and  technical 
interests.  Highly  important  relationships  exist,  of  course,  but  they 
are  much  more   complex.    See   further  Windelband,   Neuere   Phil., 
I,  pp.  40  IT.  For  the  attitude  of  Protestant  asceticism  the  decisive 
point  was,  as  may  perhaps  be  most  clearly  seen  in  Spener's  Theolo- 
gische Bedenken,  I,  p.  232;  III,  p.  260,  that  just  as  the  Christian  is 
known  by  the  fruits  of  his  belief,  the  knowledge  of  God  and  His 
designs   can  only  be   attained  through  a  knowledge   of  His  works. 
The  favourite  science  of  all  Puritan,  Baptist,  or  Pietist  Christianity 
was  thus  physics,  and  next  to  it  all  those  other  natural  sciences  which 
used  a  similar  method,  especially  mathematics.  It  was  hoped  from 
the  empirical  knowledge  of  the  divine  laws  of  nature  to  ascend  to  a 
grasp  of  the  essence  of  the  world,  which  on  account  of  the  frag- 
mentary nature  of  the  divine  revelation,  a   Calvinistic  idea,   could 
never  be  attained  by  the  method  of  metaphysical  speculation.  The 
empiricism  of  the  seventeenth  century  was  the  means  for  asceticism 
to  seek  God  in  nature.   It  seemed  to  lead  to   God,   philosophical 
speculation    away   from    Him.    In    particular    Spener    considers  the 
Aristotelean  philosophy  to  have  been  the  most  harmful  element  in 
Christian   tradition.   Every  other   is   better,  especially  the  Platonic: 
Cons.  TheoL,  III,  6,  i,  Dist.  2,  No.  13.  Compare  further  the  following 
characteristic  passage:  "Unde  pro  Cartesio  quid  dicam  non  habeo 
[he  had  not  read  him],  semper  tamen  optavi  et  opto,  ut  Deus  viros 
excitet,  qui  veram  philosophiam  vel  tandem  oculis  sisterent  in  qua 
nullius   hominis   attenderetur   auctoritas,   sed   sana   tantum   magistri 
nescia   ratio",  Spener,  Com.  TheoL,  II,  5,  No.  2.  The  significance 
of  this    attitude   of   ascetic   Protestantism   for   the   development   of 
education,  especially  technical  education,  is  well  known.  Combined  with 
the  attitude  to  fides  implicita  they  furnished  a  pedagogical  programme. 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and  the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

146.  "That  is  a  type  of  men  who  seek  their  happiness  in  four  main 
ways:  (i)  to  be  insignificant,  despised,  and  abased;  (2)  to  neglect  all 
things  they  do  not  need  for  the  service  of  their  Lord;  (3)  either  to 
possess  nothing  or  to  give  away  again  what  they  receive ;  (4)  to  work 
as  wage  labourers,  not  for  the  sake  of  the  wage,  but  of  the  calling  in 
the  service  of  the  Lord  and  their  neighbour"  {Rel.  Reden,  II,  p.  180; 
Plitt,  op.  cit.,  I,  p. 445).  Not  everyone  can  or  may  become  a  disciple, 
but  only  those  who  receive  the  call  of  the  Lord.  But  according  to 
Zinzendorf's  own  confession  (Plitt,  op.  cit., 1,  ■p.  449)  there  still  remain 
difficulties,  for  the  Sermon  on  the  Mount  applies  formally  to  all.  The 
resemblance  of  this  free  universality  of  love  to  the  old  Baptist  ideals 
is  evident. 

147.  An  emotional  intensification  of  religion  was  by  no  means 
entirely  unknown  to  Lutheranism  even  in  its  later  period.  Rather 
the  ascetic  element,  the  way  of  life  which  the  Lutheran  suspected  of 
being  salvation  by  works,  was  the  fundamental  difference  in  this  case. 

148.  A  healthy  fear  is  a  better  sign  of  grace  than  certainty,  says 
Spener,  Theologische  Bedenken,  I,  p.  324.  In  the  Puritan  writers  we, 
of  course,  also  find  emphatic  warnings  against  false  certainty;  but  at 
least  the  doctrine  of  predestination,  so  far  as  its  influence  determined 
religious  practice,  always  worked  in  the  opposite  direction 

149.  The  psychological  effect  of  the  confessional  was  everywhere 
to  relieve  the  individual  of  responsibility  for  his  own  conduct,  that 
is  why  it  was' sought,  and  that  weakened  the  rigorous  consistency  of 
the  demands  of  asceticism. 

150.  How  important  at  the  same  time,  even  for  the  form  of  the 
Pietist  faith,  was  the  part  played  by  purely  political  factors,  has  been 
indicated  by  Ritschl  in  his  study  of  Württemberg  Pietism. 

151.  See  Zinzendorf's  statement  [quoted  above,  note  146]. 

152.  Of  course  Calvinism,  in  so  far  as  it  is  genuine,  is  also  patri- 
archal. The  connection,  for  instance,  of  the  success  of  Baxter's 
activities  with  the  domestic  character  of  industry  in  Kidderminster 
is  evident  from  his  autobiography.  See  the  passage  quoted  in  the 
Works  of  the  Puritan  Divines,  p.  38:  "The  town  liveth  upon  the 
weaving  of  Kidderminster  stuffs,  and  as  they  stand  in  their  loom, 
they  can  set  a  book  before  them,  or  edify  each  other.  .  .  ."  Never- 
theless, there  is  a  difference  between  patriarchalism  based  on  Pietism 
and  on  the  Calvinistic  and  especially  the  Baptist  ethics.  This  problem 
can  only  be  discussed  in  another  connection. 

153.  Lehre  von  der  Rechtfertigung  und  Versöhnung,  third  edition, 
I,  p.  598.  That  Frederick  William  I  called  Pietism  a  religion  for  the 
leisure  class  is  more  indicative  of  his  owti  Pietism  than  that  of  Spener 
and  Francke.  Even  this  king  knew  very  well  why  he  had  opened  his 
realm  to  the  Pietists  by  his  declaration  of  toleration. 

154.  As  an  introduction  to  Methodism  the  excellent  article  Metho- 
dismus by  Loofs   in  the   Realenzyklopädie  für  protestantische  Theo- 



logie  und  Kirche  is  particularly  good.  Also  the  works  of  Jacoby 
(especially  the  Handbuch  des  Methodismus),  Kolde,  Jüngst,  and 
Southey  are  useful.  On  Wesley:  Tyerman,  Life  and  Times  of  John 
Wesley  is  popular.  One  of  the  best  libraries  on  the  history  of  Methodism 
is  that  of  Northwestern  University,  Evanston,  111.  A  sort  of  link 
between  classical  Puritanism  and  Methodism  was  formed  by  the 
religious  poet  Isaac  Watts,  a  friend  of  the  chaplain  of  Oliver  Cromwell 
(Howe)  and  then  of  Richard  Cromwell.  Whitefield  is  said  to  have 
sought  his  advice  (cf.  Skeats,  op.  cit.,  pp.  254  f.). 

155.  Apart  from  the  personal  influence  of  the  Wesleys  the  similarity 
is  historically  determined,  on  the  one  hand,  by  the  decline  of  the 
dogma  of  predestination,  on  the  other  by  the  powerful  revival  of 
the  sola  fide  in  the  founders  of  Methodism,  especially  motivated  by 
its  specific  missionary  character.  This  brought  forth  a  modified 
rejuvenation  of  certain  mediaeval  methods  of  revival  preaching  and 
combined  them  with  Pietistic  forms.  It  certainly  does  not  belong  in 
a  general  line  of  development  toward  subjectivism,  since  in  this 
respect  it  stood  behind  not  only  Pietism,  but  also  the  Bernardino 
religion  of  the  Middle  Ages. 

156.  In  this  manner  Wesley  himself  occasionally  characterized 
the  effect  of  the  Methodist  faith.  The  relationship  to  Zinzendorf's 
Glückseligkeit  is  evident. 

157.  Given  in  Watson's  Life  of  Wesley,  p.  331  (German  edition). 

158.  J.  Schneckenburger,  Vorlesungen  über  die  Lehrbegriffe  der 
kleinen  protestantischen  Kirchenparteien,  edited  by  Hundeshagen 
(Frankfurt,  1863),  p.  147. 

159.  Whitefield,  the  leader  of  the  predestinationist  group  which 
after  his  death  dissolved  for  lack  of  organization,  rejected  Wesley's 
doctrine  of  perfection  in  its  essentials.  In  fact,  it  is  only  a  makeshift 
for  the  real  Calvinistic  idea  of  proof. 

160.  Schneckenburger,  op.  cit.,  p.  145.  Somewhat  different  in  Loofs, 
op.  cit.  Both  results  are  typical  of  all  similar  religious  phenomena. 

161.  Thus  in  the  conference  of  1 770 .  The  first  conference  of  1 744  had 
already  recognized  that  the  Biblical  words  came  "within  a  hair"  of  Cal- 
vinism on  the  one  hand  and  Antinomianism  on  the  other.  But  since 
they  were  so  obscure  it  was  not  well  to  be  separated  by  doctrinal  differ- 
ences so  long  as  the  validity  of  the  Bible  as  a  practical  norm  was  upheld. 

162.  The  Methodists  were  separated  from  the  Herrnhuters  by 
their  doctrine  of  the  possibility  of  sinless  perfection,  which  Zin- 
zendorf,  in  particular,  rejected.  On  the  other  hand,  Wesley  felt  the 
emotional  element  in  the  Hermhut  religion  to  be  mysticism  and 
branded  Luther's  interpretation  of  the  law  as  blasphemous.  This 
shows  the  barrier  which  existed  between  Lutheranism  and  every 
kind  of  rational  religious  conduct. 

163.  John  Wesley  emphasizes  the  fact  that  everywhere,  among 
Quakers,  Presbyterians,  and  High  Churchmen,  one  must  believe  in 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and  the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

dogmas,  except  in  Methodism.  With  the  above,  compare  the  rather 
summary  discussion  in  Skeats,  History  of  the  Free  Churches  of 
England,  1688-1851. 

164.  Compare  Dexter,  Congregationalism,  pp.  455  ff. 

165.  Though  naturally  it  might  interfere  with  it,  as  is  to-day  the 
case  among  the  American  negroes.  Furthermore,  the  often  definitely 
pathological  character  of  Methodist  emotionalism  as  compared  to 
the  relatively  mild  type  of  Pietism  may  possibly,  along  with  purely 
historical  reasons  and  the  publicity  of  the  process,  be  connected 
with  the  greater  ascetic  penetration  of  life  in  the  areas  where  Method- 
ism is  widespread.  Only  a  neurologist  could  decide  that. 

166.  Loofs,  op.  cit.,  p.  750,  strongly  emphasizes  the  fact  that 
Methodism  is  distinguished  from  other  ascetic  movements  in  that  it 
came  after  the  English  Enlightenment,  and  compares  it  with  the 
(surely  much  less  pronounced)  German  Renaissance  of  Pietism  in 
the  first  third  of  the  nineteenth  century.  Nevertheless,  it  is  permissible, 
following  Ritschl,  Lehre  von  der  Rechtfertigung  und  Versöhnung,  I, 
pp.  568  f.,  to  retain  the  parallel  with  the  Zinzendorf  form  of  Pietism, 
which,  unlike  that  of  Spener  and  Francke,  was  already  itself  a  reaction 
against  the  Enlightenment.  However,  this  reaction  takes  a  very 
different  course  in  Methodism  from  that  of  the  Hermhuters,  at 
least  so  far  as  they  were  influenced  by  Zinzendorf. 

167.  But  which,  as  is  shown  by  the  passage  from  John  Wesley 
(below,  p.  175),  it  developed  in  the  same  way  and  with  the  same 
effect  as  the  other  ascetic  denominations. 

168.  And,  as  we  have  seen,  milder  forms  of  the  consistent  ascetic 
ethics  of  Puritanism;  while  if,  in  the  popular  manner,  one  wished  to 
interpret  these  religious  conceptions  as  only  exponents  or  reflections 
of  capitalistic  institutions,  just  the  opposite  would  have  to  be  the  case. 

169.  Of  the  Baptists  only  the  so-called  General  Baptists  go  back 
to  the  older  movement.  The  Particular  Baptists  were,  as  we  have 
pointed  out  already,  Calvinists,  who  in  principle  limited  Church 
membership  to  the  regenerate,  or  at  least  personal  believers,  and 
hence  remained  in  principle  voluntarists  and  opponents  of  any  State 
Church.  Under  Cromwell,  no  doubt,  they  were  not  always  consistent 
in  practice.  Neither  they  nor  the  General  Baptists,  however  important 
they  are  as  the  bearers  of  the  Baptist  tradition,  give  us  any  occasion 
for  an  especial  dogmatic  analysis  here.  That  the  Quakers,  though 
formally  a  new  foundation  of  George  Fox  and  his  associates,  were 
fundamentally  a  continuation  of  the  Baptist  tradition,  is  beyond 
question.  The  best  introduction  to  their  history,  including  their 
relations  to  Baptists  and  Mennonites,  is  Robert  Barclay,  The  Inner 
Life  of  the  Religious  Societies  of  the  Commonwealth,  1876.  On  the 
history  of  the  Baptists,  compare,  among  others,  H.  M.  Dexter,  The 
True  Story  of  John  Smyth,  the  Se-Baptist,  as  told  by  himself  and  his 
contemporaries,  Boston,  i88i  (also  J.  C.  Lang  in  The  Baptist  Quarterly 



Review,  1883,  p.  i);  J.  Murch,  A  History  of  the  Presb.  and  Gen. 
Bapt.  Church  in  the  West  of  England,  London,  1835;  A.  H.  Newman, 
History  of  the  Baptist  Church  in  the  U.S.,  New  York,  1894  (Am. 
Church  Hist.  Series,  vol.  2) ;  Vedder,  A  Short  History  of  the  Baptists, 
London,  1897 ;  E.  B.  Bax,  Rise  and  Fall  of  the  Anabaptists,  New  York, 
1902;  G.  Lorimer,  The  Baptists  in  History,  1902;  J.  A,  Seiss,  The 
Baptist  System  Examined,  Lutheran  Publication  Society,  1902; 
furthermaterial  in  the  Baptist  Handbook,  London,  1896  ff.;  Baptist 
Manuals,  Paris,  1891-93;  The  Baptist  Quarterly  Review;  and  the 
Bibliotheca  Sacra,  Oberlin,  1900. 

The  best  Baptist  library  seems  to  be  that  of  Colgate  College  in 
the  State  of  New  York.  For  the  history  of  the  Quakers  the  collection 
in  Devonshire  House  in  London  is  considered  the  best  (not  available 
to  me).  The  official  modern  organ  of  orthodoxy  is  the  American 
Friend,  edited  by  Professor  Jones;  the  best  Quaker  history  that  of 
Rowntree.  In  addition:  Rufus  B.  Jones,  George  Fox,  an  Autobiography, 
Phila.,  1903;  Alton  C.  Thomas,  A  History  of  the  Society  of  Friends 
in  America,  Phila.,  1895 ;  Edward  Grubbe,  Social  Aspects  of  the  Quaker 
Faith,  London,  1899.  Also  the  copious  and  excellent  biographical 

170.  It  is  one  of  the  many  merits  of  Karl  MüUer's  Kirchengeschichte 
to  have  given  the  Baptist  movement,  great  in  its  way,  even  though 
outwardly  unassuming,  the  place  it  deserved  in  his  work.  It  has 
suffered  more  than  any  other  from  the  pitiless  persecution  of  all 
the  Churches,  because  it  wished  to  be  a  sect  in  the  specific  sense  of 
that  word.  Even  after  five  generations  it  was  discredited  before  the 
eyes  of  all  the  world  by  the  debacle  of  the  related  eschatological 
experiment  in  Münster.  And,  continually  oppressed  and  driven 
underground,  it  was  long  after  its  origin  before  it  attained  a  consistent 
formulation  of  its  religious  doctrines.  Thus  it  produced  even  less 
theology  than  would  have  been  consistent  with  its  principles,  which 
were  themselves  hostile  to  a  specializea  development  of  its  faith  in 
God  as  a  science.  That  was  not  very  pleasing  to  the  older  professional 
theologians,  even  in  its  own  time,  and  it  made  little  impression  on 
them.  But  many  more  recent  ones  have  taken  the  same  attitude.  In 
Ritschl,  Pietismus,  I,  pp.  22  f.,  the  rebaptizers  are  not  very  adequately, 
in  fact,  rather  contemptuously,  treated.  One  is  tempted  to  speak  of 
a  theological  bourgeois  standpoint.  That,  in  spite  of  the  fact  that 
Cornelius's  fine  work  {Geschichte  des  Münsterschen  Aufruhrs)  had 
been  available  for  decades. 

Here  also  Ritschl  everywhere  sees  a  retrogression  from  his  stand- 
point toward  Catholicism,  and  suspects  direct  influences  of  the 
radical  wing  of  the  Franciscan  tradition.  Even  if  such  could  be 
proved  in  a  few  cases,  these  threads  would  be  very  thin.  Above  all, 
the  historical  fact  was  probably  that  the  official  Catholic  Church, 
wherever   the   worldly  asceticism   of  the  laity  went   as  far   as   the 

The   Protestant   Ethic   and  the    Spirit   of   Capitalism 

formation  of  conventicles,  regarded  it  with  the  utmost  suspicion  and 
attempted  to  encourage  the  formation  of  orders,  thus  outside  the 
world,  or  to  attach  it  as  asceticism  of  the  second  grade  to  the  existing 
orders  and  bring  it  under  control.  Where  this  did  not  succeed,  it 
felt  the  danger  that  the  practice  of  subjectivist  ascetic  morality  might 
lead  to  the  denial  of  authority  and  to  heresy,  just  as,  and  with  the 
same  justification,  the  Elizabethan  Church  felt  toward  the  half- 
Pietistic  prophesying  Bible  conventicles,  even  when  their  conformism 
was  undoubted;  a  feeling  which  was  expressed  by  the  Stuarts  in 
their  Book  of  Sports,  of  which  later.  The  history  of  numerous  heretical 
movements,  including,,  for  instance,  the  Humiliati  and  the  Beguins, 
as  well  as  the  fate  of  St.  Francis,  are  the  proofs  of  it.  The  preaching 
of  the  mendicant  friars,  especially  the  Franciscans,  probably  did 
much  to  prepare  the  way  for  the  ascetic  lay  morality  of  Calvinist- 
Baptist  Protestantism,  But  the  numerous  close  relationships  between 
the  asceticism  of  Western  monasticism  and  the  ascetic  conduct  of 
Protestantism,  the  importance  of  which  must  continually  be  stressed 
for  our  particular  problems,  are  based  in  the  last  analysis  on  the  fact 
that  important  factors  are  necessarily  common  to  every  asceticism 
on  the  basis  of  Biblical  Christianity.  Furthermore,  every  asceticism, 
no  matter  what  its  faith,  has  need  of  certain  tried  methods  of  subduing 
the  flesh. 

Of  the  following  sketch  it  may  further  be  remarked  that  its  brevity 
is  due  to  the  fact  that  the  Baptist  ethic  is  of  only  very  limited 
importance  for  the  problem  considered  primarily  in  this  study,  the 
development  of  the  religious  background  of  the  bourgeois  idea  of 
the  calling.  It  contributed  nothing  new  whatever  to  it.  The  much 
more  important  social  aspect  of  the  movement  must  for  the  present 
remain  untouched.  Of  the  history  of  the  older  Baptist  movement, 
we  can,  from  the  view-point  of  our  problem,  present  here  only  what 
was  later  important  for  the  development  of  the  sects  in  which  we 
are  interested:  Baptists,  Quakers,  and,  more  incidentally,  Mennonites. 

171.  See  above  [note  92]. 

172.  On  their  origin  and  changes,  see  A.  Ritschl  in  his  Gesammelte 
Aufsätze,  pp.  69  f.     * 

173.  Naturally  the  Baptists  have  always  repudiated  the  designation 
of  a  sect.  They  form  the  Church  in  the  sense  of  the  Epistle  to  the 
Ephesians  v.  27.  But  in  our  terminology  they  form  a  sect  not  only 
because  they  lack  all  relation  to  the  State.  The  relation  between  Church 
and  State  of  early  Christianity  was  even  for  the  Quakers  (Barclay)  their 
ideal;  for  to  them,  as  to  many  Pietists,  only  a  Church  under  the 
Cross  was  beyond  suspicion  of  its  purity.  But  the  Calvinists  as  well, 
faute  de  mieux,  similarly  even  the  Catholic  Church  in  the  same 
circumstances,  were  forced  to  favour  the  separation  of  Church  and 
State  under  an  unbelieving  State  or  under  the  Cross.  Neither  were 
they  a  sect,  because  induction  to  membership  in  the  Church  took 


place  de  facto  through  a  contract  between  the  congregation  and  the 
candidates.  For  that  was  formally  the  case  in  the  Dutch  Reformed 
communities  (as  a  result  of  the  original  political  situation)  in  accord- 
ance with  the  old  Church  constitution  (see  v.  Hoffmann,  Kirchen- 
verfassungsrecht der  nieder!.  Reformierten,  Leipzig,  1902). 

On  the  contrary,  it  was  because  such  a  religious  community  could 
only  be  voluntarily  organized  as  a  sect,  not  compulsorily  as  a  Church, 
if  it  did  not  wish  to  include  the  unregenerate  and  thus  depart  from 
the  Early  Christian  ideal.  For  the  Baptist  communities  it  was  an 
essential  of  the  very  idea  of  their  Church,  while  for  the  Calvinists 
it  was  an  historical  accident.  To  be  sure,  that  the  latter  were  also 
urged  by  very  definite  religious  motives  in  the  direction  of  the 
believers'  Church  has  already  been  indicated.  On  the  distinction 
between  Church  and  sect,  see  the  following  essay.  The  concept  of 
sect  which  I  have  adopted  here  has  been  used  at  about  the  same 
time  and,  I  assume,  independently  from  me,  by  Kattenbusch  in  the 
Realenzyklopädie  für  protestantische  Theologie  und  Kirche  (Article 
Sekte).  Troeltsch  in  his  Die  Soziallehren  der  christlichen  Kirchen  und 
Gruppen  accepts  it  and  discusses  it  more  in  detail.  See  also  below, 
the  introduction  to  the  essays  on  the  Wirtschaftsethik  der  Weltreligionen. 

174.  How  important  this  symbol  was,  historically,  for  the  conser- 
vation of  the  Church  commünty,  since  it  was  an  unambiguous  and 
unmistakable  sign,  has  been  very  clearly  shown  by  Cornelius,  op.  cit. 

175.  Certain  approaches  to  it  in  the  Mennonites'  doctrine  of  justi- 
fication need  not  concern  us  here. 

176.  This  idea  is  perhaps  the  basis  of  the  religious  interest  in  the 
discussion  of  questions  like  the  incarnation  of  Christ  and  his  relation- 
ship to  the  Virgin  Mary,  which,  often  as  the  sole  purely  dogmatic 
part,  stands  out  so  strangely  in  the  oldest  documents  of  Baptism  (for 
instance  the  confessions  printed  in  Cornelius,  op.  cit.,  Appendix  to 
Vol,  n.  On  this  question,  see  K.  Müller,  Kirchengeschichte,  II,  i, 
p.  330).  The  difference  between  the  christology  of  the  Reformed 
Church  and  the  Lutheran  (in  the  doctrine  of  the  so-called  communicatio 
idiomatum)  seems  to  have  been  based  on  similar  religious  interests. 

177.  It  was  expressed  especially  in  the  original  strict  avoidance 
even  of  everyday  intercourse  with  the  excommunicated,  a  point  at 
which  even  the  Calvinists,  who  in  principle  held  the  opinion  that 
worldly  affairs  were  not  affected  by  spiritual  censure,  made  large 
concessions.  See  the  following  essay. 

178.  How  this  principle  was  applied  by  the  Quakers  to  seemingly 
trivial  externals  (refusal  to  remove  the  hat,  to  kneel,  bow,  or  use 
formal  address)  is  well  known.  The  basic  idea  is  to  a  certain  extent 
characteristic  of  all  asceticism.  Hence  the  fact  that  true  asceticism  is 
always  hostile  to  authority."  In  Calvinism  it  appeared  in  the  principle 
that  only  Christ  should  rule, in  the  Church.  In  the  case  of  Pietism' 
one  may  think  of  Spener's  attempts  to  find  a  Biblical  justification  of 

The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

titles.  Catholic  asceticism,  so  far  as  ecclesiastical  authority  was  con- 
cerned, broke  through  this  tendency  in  its  oath  of  obedience,  by 
interpreting  obedience  itself  in  ascetic  terms.  The  overturning  of 
this  principle  in  Protestant  asceticism  is  the  historical  basis  of  the 
peculiarities  of  even  the  contemporary  democracy  of  the  peoples 
influenced  by  Puritanism  as  distinct  from  that  of  the  Latin  spirit. 
It  is  also  part  of  the  historical  background  of  that  lack  of  respect  of 
the  American  which  is,  as  the  case  may  be,  so  irritating  or  so 

179.  No  doubt  this  was  true  from  the  beginning  for  the  Baptists 
essentially  only  of  the  New  Testament,  not  to  the  same  extent  of 
the  Old.  Especially  the  Sermon  on  the  Mount  enjoyed  a  peculiar 
prestige  as  a  programme  of  social  ethic  in  all  denominations. 

180.  Even  Schwenkfeld  had  considered  the  outward  performance 
of  the  sacraments  an  adiaphoron,  while  the  General  Baptists  and  the 
Mennonites  held  strictly  to  Baptism  and  the  Communion,  the  Men- 
nonites  to  the  washing  of  feet  in  addition.  On  the  other  hand,  for 
the  predestinationists  the  depreciation,  in  fact  for  all  except  the  com- 
munion— one  may  even  say  the  suspicion — in  which  the  sacraments 
were  held,  went  very  far.  See  the  following  essay. 

181.  On  this  point  the  Baptist  denominations, '  especially  the 
Quakers  (Barclay,  Apology  for  the  True  Christian  Divinity,  fourth 
edition,  London,  1701,  kindly  placed  at  my  disposal  by  Eduard 
Bernstein),  referred  to  Calvin's  statements  in  the  Instit.  Christ,  III, 
p.  2,  where  in  fact  quite  unmistakable  suggestions  of  Baptist  doctrine 
are  to  be  found.  Also  the  older  distinction  between  the  Word  of  God 
as  that  which  God  had  revealed  to  the  patriarchs,  the  prophets,  and 
the  apostles,  and  the  Holy  Scriptures  as  that  part  of  it  which  they 
had  written  down,  was,  even  though  there  was  no  historical  con- 
nection, intimately  related  to  the  Baptist  conception  of  revelation. 
The  mechanical  idea  of  inspiration,  and  with  it  the  strict  bibliocracy 
of  the  Calvinists,  was  just  as  much  the  product  of  their  development 
in  one  direction  in  the  course  of  the  sixteenth  century  as  the  doctrine 
of  the  inner  light  of  the  Quakers,  derived  from  Baptist  sources,  was 
the  result  of  a  directly  opposite  development.  The  sharp  differen- 
tiation was  also  in  this  case  partly  a  result  of  continual  disputes. 

182.  That  was  emphasized  strongly  against  certain  tendencies  of 
the  Socinians.  The  natural  .reason  knows  nothing  whatever  of  God 
(Barclay,  op.  cit.,  p.  102).  That  meant  that  the  part  played  by  the 
lex  natures  elsewhere  in  Protestantism  was  altered.  In  principle 
there  could  be  no  general  rules,  no  moral  code,  for  the  calling  which 
everyone  had,  and  which  is  different  for  every  individual,  is  revealed 
to  him  by  God  through  his  conscience.  We  should  do,  not  the  good 
in  the  general  sense  of  natural  reason,  but  God's  will  as  it  is  written 
in  our  hearts  and  known  through  the  conscience  (Barclay,  pp.  73, 
76).  This  irrationality  of  morality,  derived  from  the  exaggerated 



contrast  between  the  divine  and  the  flesh,  is  expressed  in  these 
fundamental  tenets  of  Quaker  ethics:  "What  a  man  does  contrary  to 
his  faith,  though  his  faith  may  be  wrong,  is  in  no  way  acceptable 
to  God — though  the  thing  might  have  been  lawful  to  another" 
(Barclay,  p.  487).  Of  course  that  could  not  be  upheld  in  practice. 
The  "moral  and  perpetual  statutes  acknowledged  by  all  Christians" 
are,  for  instance,  for  Barclay  the  limit  of  toleration.  In  practice  the 
contemporaries  felt  their  ethic,  with  certain  peculiarities  of  its  own, 
to  be  similar  to  that  of  the  Reformed  Pietists.  "Everything  good  in 
the  Church  is  suspected  of  being  Quakerism",  as  Spener  repeatedly 
points  out.  It  thus  seems  that  Spener  envied  the  Quakers  this  reputa- 
tion. Cons.  Theol.,  Ill,  6,  i,  Dist.  2,  No.  64.  The  repudiation  of  oaths 
on  the  basis  of  a  passage  in  the  Bible  shows  that  the  real  emancipation 
from  the  Scriptures  had  not  gone  far.  The  significance  for  social 
ethics  of  the  principle,  "Do  unto  others  as  you  would  that  they 
should  do  unto  you",  which  many  Quakers  regarded  as  the  essence 
of  the  whole  Christian  ethics,  need  not  concern  us  here. 

183.  The  necessity  of  assuming  this  possibility  Barclay  justifies 
because  without  it  "there  should  never  be  a  place  known  by  the 
Saints  wherein  they  might  be  free  of  doubting  and  despair,  which — 
is  most  absurd".  It  is  evident  that  the  certitudo  salutis  depends  upon 
it.  Thus  Barclay,  op.  cit.,  p.  20. 

184.  There  thus  remains  a  difference  in  type  between  the  Cal- 
vinistic  and  the  Quaker  rationalization  of  life.  But  when  Baxter 
formulates  it  by  saying  that  the  spirit  is  supposed  by  the  Quakers 
to  act  upon  the  soul  as  on  a  corpse,  while  the  characteristically 
formulated  Calvinistic  principle  is  "reason  and  spirit  are  conjunct 
principles"  {Christian  Directory,  II,  p.  76),  the  distinction  was  no 
longer  valid  for  his  time  in  this  form. 

185.  Thus  in  the  very  careful  articles  "Menno"  and  "Men- 
noniten"  by  Cramer  in  the  Realenzyklopädie  für  protestantische 
Theologie  und  Kirche,  especially  p.  604.  However  excellent  these 
articles  are,  the  article  "Baptisten"  in  the  same  encyclopedia  is  not 
very  penetrating  and  in  part  simply  incorrect.  Its  author  does  not 
know,  for  instance,  the  Publications  of  the  Hanserd  Knolly's  Society, 
which  are  indispensable  for  the  history  of  Baptism. 

186.  Thus  Barclay,  op.  cit.,  p.  404,  explains  that  eatmg,  drinking, 
and  acquisition  are  natural,  not  spiritual  acts,  which  may  be  per- 
formed without  the  special  sanction  of  God.  The  explanation  is  in 
reply  to  the  characteristic  objection  that  if,  as  the  Quakers  teach, 
one  cannot  pray  without  a  special  motion  of  the  Spirit,  the  same 
should  apply  to  ploughing.  It  is,  of  course,  significant  that  even  in  the 
modem  resolutions  of  Quaker  Synods  the  advice  is  sometimes  given 
to  retire  from  business  after  acquiring  a  sufficient  fortune,  in  order, 
withdrawn  from  the  bustle  of  the  world,  to  be  able  to  live  in  devotion 
to  the  Kingdom  of   God  alone.  But  the  same  idea  certainly  occurs 

The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

occasionally  in  other  denominations,  including  Calvinism.  That 
betrays  the  fact  that  the  acceptance  of  the  bourgeois  practical  ethics 
by  these  movements  w^as  the  worldly  application  of  an  asceticism 
which  had  originally  fled  from  the  world. 

187.  Veblen  in  his  suggestive  book  The  Theory  of  Business 
Enterprise  is  of  the  opinion  that  this  motto  belongs  only  to  early 
capitalism.  But  economic  supermen,  who,  like  the  present  captains 
of  industry,  have  stood  beyond  good  and  evil,  have  always  existed, 
and  the  statement  is  still  true  of  the  broad  underlying  strata  of 
business  men. 

188.  We  may  here  again  expressly  call  attention  to  the  excellent 
remarks  of  Eduard  Bernstein,  op.  cit.  To  Kautsky's  highly  schematic 
treatment  of  the  Baptist  movement  and  his  theory  of  heretical  com- 
munism in  general  (in  the  first  volume  of  the  same  work)  we  shall 
return  on  another  occasion. 

189.  "In  civil  actions  it  is  good  to  be  as  the  many,  in  religious 
to  be  as  the  best",  says,  for  example,  Thomas  Adams  {Works  of  the 
Puritan  Divines,  p.  138).. That  sounds  somewhat  more  drastic  than 
it  is  meant  to  be.  It  means  that  the  Puritan  honesty  is  formalistic 
legality,  just  as  the  uprightness  which  the  sometime  Puritan  people 
like  to  claim  as  a  national  virtue  is  something  specifically  different 
from  the  German  Ehrlichkeit.  Some  good  remarks  on  the  subject 
from  the  educational  standpoint  may  be  found  in  the  Preuss.  Jahrb., 
CXI  I  (1903),  p.  226.  The  formalism  of  the  Puritan  ethic  is  in  turn 
the  natural  consequence  of  its  relation  to  the  law. 

190.  Something  is  said  on  this  in  the  following  essay. 

191.  This  is  the  reason  for  the  economic  importance  of  the  ascetic 
Protestant,  but  not  Catholic,  minorities. 

192.  That  the  difference  of  dogmatic  basis  was  not  inconsistent 
with  the  adoption  of  the  most  important  interest  in  proof  is  to  be 
explained  in  the  last  analysis  by  the  historical  peculiarities  of  Christi- 
anity in  general  which  cannot  be  discussed  here. 

193.  "Since  God  hath  gathered  us  to  be  a  people",  says  Barclay,  op. 
cit.,  p.  357. 1  myself  heard  a  Quaker  sermon  at  Haverford  College  which 
laid  great  emphasis  on  the  interpretation  of  saints  as  meaning  separate. 


I.  See  the  excellent  sketch  of  his  character  in  Dowden,  op.  cit. 
A  passable  introduction  to  Baxter's  theology,  after  he  had  abandoned 
a  strict  belief  in  the  double  decree,  is  given  in  the  introduction  to 
the  various  extracts  from  his  works  printed  in  the  Works  of  the 
Puritan  Divines  (by  Jenkyn).  His  attempt  to  combine  universal 
redemption  and  personal  election  satisfied  no  one.  For  us  it  is 
important  only  that  he  even  then  held  to  personal  election,  i.e.  to 



the  most  important  point  for  ethics  in  the  doctrine  of  predestination. 
On  the  other  hand,  his  weakening  of  the  forensic  view  of  redemption 
is  important  as  being  suggestive  of  baptism. 

2.  Tracts  and  sermons  by  Thomas  Adams,  John  Howe,  Matthew 
Henry,  J.  Janeway,  Stuart  Charnock,  Baxter,  Bunyan,  have  been 
collected  in  the  ten  volumes  of  the  Works  of  the  Puritan  Divines 
(London,  1845-8),  though  the  choice  is  often  somewhat  arbitrary. 
Editions  of  the  works  of  Bailey,  Sedgwick,  and  Hoombeek  have 
already  been  referred  to. 

3.  We  could  just  as  well  have  included  Voet  and  other  continental 
representatives  of  worldly  asceticism.  Brentano's  view  that  the  whole 
development  was  purely  Anglo-Saxon  is  quite  wrong.  My  choice  is 
motivated  mainly  (though  not  exclusively)  by  the  wish  to  present 
the  ascetic  naovement  as  much  as  possible  in  the  second  half  of  the 
seventeenth  century,  immediately  before  the  change  to  utilitarianism. 
It  has  unfortunately  been  impossible,  within  the  limits  of  this  sketch, 
to  enter  upon  the  fascinating  task  of  presenting  the  characteristics 
of  ascetic  Protestantism  through  the  medium  of  the  biographical 
literature ;  the  Quakers  would  in  this  connection  be  particularly 
important,  since  they  are  relatively  little  known  in  Germany. 

4.  For  one  might  just  as  well  take  the  writings  of  Gisbert  Voet, 
the  proceedings  of  the  Huguenot  Synods,  or  the  Dutch  Baptist 
literature.  Sombart  and  Brentano  have  unfortunately  taken  just  the 
ebionitic  parts  of  Baxter,  which  I  myself  have  strongly  emphasized, 
to  confront  me  with  the  undoubted  capitalistic  backwardness  of  his 
doctrines.  But  (i)  one  must  know  this  whole  literature  thoroughly 
in  order  to  use  it  correctly,  and  (2)  not  overlook  the  fact  that  I  have 
attempted  to  show  how,  in  spite  of  its  anti-mammonistic  doctrines, 
the  spirit  of  this  ascetic  religion  nevertheless,  just  as  in  the  monastic 
communities,  gave  birth  to  economic  rationalism  because  it  placed 
a  premium  on  what  was  most  important  for  it:  the  fundamentally 
ascetic  rational  motives.  That  fact  alone  is  under  discussion  and  is 
the  point  of  this  whole  essay. 

5.  Similarly  in  Calvin,  -who  was  certainly  no  champion  of  bour- 
geois wealth  (see  the  sharp  attacks  on  Venice  and  Antwerp  in  Jes. 
Opp.,  ni,  140a,  308a). 

6.  Saints'  Everlasting  Rest,  chaps,  x,  xii.  Compare  Bailey  {Prax- 
is Pietatis,  p.  182)  or  Matthew  Henry  {The  Worth  of  the  Soul,  Works 
of  the  Puritan  Divines,  p.  319).  "Those  that  are  eager  in  pursuit  of 
worldly  wealth  despise  their  Soul,  not  only  because  the  Soul  is 
neglected  and  the  body  preferred  before  it,  but  because  it  is  employed 
in  these  pursuits"  (Psa.  cxxvii.  2).  On  the  same  page,  however,  is 
the  remark  to  be  cited  below  about  the  sinfulness  of  all  waste  of 
time,  especially  in  recreations.  Similarly  in  almost  the  whole  religious 
literature  of  English-Dutch  Puritanism.  See,  for  instance,  Hoombeek's 
(op.  cit.,  L,  X,ch,  18,  i8)  Phillipics  against  avaritia.  This  writer  is  also 

The   Protestant   Ethic   ayid   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

affected  by  sentimental  pietistic  influences.  See  the  praise  of  tran- 
quillitas  animi  which  is  much  more  pleasing  to  God  than  the  sollicitudo 
of  this  world.  Also  Bailey,  referring  to  the  well-known  passage  in 
Scripture,  is  of  the  opinion  that  "A  rich  man  is  not  easily  saved" 
{op.  cit.,  p.  182).  The  Methodist  catechisms  also  warn  against 
"gathering  treasure  on  this  earth".  For  Pietism  this  is  quite  obvious, 
as  also  for  the  Quakers.  Compare  Barclay  {op.  cit.,  p.  517),  "...  and 
therefore  beware  of  such  temptations  as  to  use  their  callings  as  an 
engine  to  be  richer". 

7.  For  not  wealth  alone,  but  also  the  impulsive  pursuit  of  it  (or 
what  passed  as  such)  was  condemned  with  similar  severity.  In  the 
Netherlands  the  South  Holland  Synod  of  1574  declared,  in  reply  to 
a  question,  that  nioney-lenders  should  not  be  admitted  to  communion 
even  though  the  business  was  permitted  by  law;  and  the  Deventer 
Provincial  Synod  of  1598  (Art.  24)  extended  this  to  the  employees 
of  nioney-lenders.  The  Synod  of  Gorichem  in  1606  prescribed  severe 
and  humiliating  conditions  under  which  the  wives  of  usurers  might 
be  admitted,  and  the  question  was  discussed  as  late  as  1644  and  1657 
whether  Lombards  should  be  admitted  to  communion  (this  against 
Brentano,  who  cites  his  own  Catholic  ancestors,  although  foreign 
traders  and  bankers  have  existed  in  the  whole  European  and  Asiatic 
world  for  thousands  of  years).  Gisbert  Voet  (Disp.  Theol.,  IV, 
1667,  cie  usiiris,  p.  665)  still  wanted  to  exclude  the  Trapezites 
(Lombards,  Piedmontese).  The  same  was  true  of  the  Huguenot 
Synods.  This  type  of  capitalistic  classes  were  not  the  typical 
representatives  of  the  philosophy  or  the  type  of  conduct  with  which 
we  are  concerned.  They  were  also  not  new  as  compared  with 
antiquity  or  the  Middle  Ages. 

8.  Developed  in  detail  in  the  tenth  chapter  of  the  Saints'  Ever- 
lasting Rest.  He  who  should  seek  to  rest  in  the  shelter  of  possessions 
which  God  gives,  God  strikes  even  in  this  life.  A  self-satisfied  enjoy- 
ment of  wealth  already  gained  is  almost  always  a  symptom  of  moral 
degradation.  If  we  had  everything  which  we  could  have  in  this  world, 
would  that  be  all  we  hoped  for?  Complete  satisfaction  of  desires  is 
not  attainable  on  earth  because  God's  will  has  decreed  it  should 
not  be  so. 

9.  Christian  Directory,  I,  pp.  375-6.  "It  is  for  action  that  God 
maintaineth  us  and  our  activities;  work  is  the  moral  as  well  as  the 
natural  end  of  power.  ...  It  is  action  that  God  is  most  served  and 
honoured  by.  .  .  .  The  public  welfare  or  the  good  of  the  many  is 
to  be  valued  above  our  own."  Here  is  the  connecting-point  for  the 
transition  from  the  will  of  God  to  the  purely  utilitarian  view-point  of 
the  later  liberal  theory.  On  the  religious  sources  of  Utilitarianism, 
see  below  in  the  text  and  above,  chap,  iv,  note  145. 

10.  The  commandment  of  silence  has  been,  starting  from  the 
Biblical  threat  of  punishment  for  every  useless  word,  especially  since 



the  Cluny  monks,  a  favourite  ascetic  means  of  education  in  self- 
control,  Baxter  also  speaks  in  detail  of  the  sinfulness  of  unnecessary 
words.  Its  place  in  his  character  has  been  pointed  out  by  Sanford, 
op.  cit.,  pp.  90  ff. 

What  contemporaries  felt  as  the  deep  melancholy  and  moroseness 
of  the  Puritans  was  the  result  of  breaking  down  the  spontaneity  of 
the  status  naturalis,  and  the  condemnation  of  thoughtless  speech  was 
in  the  service  of  this  end.  When  Washington  Irving  {Bracebridge 
Hall,  chap,  xxx)  seeks  the  reason  for  it  partly  in  the  calculating 
spirit  of  capitalism  and  partly  in  the  effect  of  political  freedom, 
which  promotes  a  sense  of  responsibility,  it  may  be  remarked  that 
it  does  not  apply  to  the  Latin  peoples.  For  England  the  situation 
was  probably  that:  (i)  Puritanism  enabled  its  adherents  to  create 
free  institutions  and  still  become  a  world  power ;  and  (2)  it  trans- 
formed that  calculating  spirit  (what  Sombart  calls  Rechenhaftigkeit), 
which  is  in  truth  essential  to  capitalism,  from  a  mere  means  to 
economy  into  a  principle  of  general  conduct. 

11.  Op.  cit.,  I,  p.  III. 

12.  Op.  cit.,  I,  p.  383  f. 

13.  Similarly  on  the  preciousness  of  time,  see  Barclay,  op.  cit.,  p.  14. 

14.  Baxter,  op.  cit.,  I,  p.  79.  "Keep  up  a  high  esteem  of  time  and 
be  every  day  more  careful  that  you  lose  none  of  your  time,  than 
you  are  that  you  lose  none  of  your  gold  and  silver.  And  if  vain 
recreation,  dressings,  feastings,  idle  talk,  unprofitable  company,  or 
sleep  be  any  of  them  temptations  to  rob  you  of  any  of  your  time, 
accordingly  heighten  your  watchfulness."  "Those  that  are  prodigal 
of  their  time  despise  their  own  souls",  says  Matthew  Henry  {Worth 
of  the  Soul,  Works  of  the  Puritan  Divines,  p.  315).  Here  also  Protestant 
asceticism  follows  a  well-beaten  track.  We  are  accustomed  to  think  it 
characteristic  of  the  modern  man  that  he  has  no  time,  and  for  instance, 
like  Goethe  in  the  Wanderjahren,  to  measure  the  degree  of  capitalistic 
development  by  the  fact  that  the  clocks  strike  every  quarter-hour. 
So  also  Sombart  in  his  Kapitalismus.  We  ought  not,  however,  to 
forget  that  the  first  people  to  live  (in  the  Middle  Ages)  with  careful 
measurement  of  time  were  the  monks,  and  that  the  church  bells 
were  meant  above  all  to  meet  their  needs. 

15.  Compare  Baxter's  discussion  of  the  calling,  op.  cit.,  I,  pp.  108  ti. 
Especially  the  following  passage:  "Question:  But  may  I  not  cast  off 
the  world  that  I  may  only  think  of  my  salvation  ?  Answer :  You  may 
cast  off  all  such  excess  of  worldly  cares  or  business  as  unnecessarily 
hinder  you  in  spiritual  things.  But  you  may  not  cast  off  all  bodily 
employment  and  mental  labour  in  which  you  may  serve  the  common 
good.  Everyone  as  a  member  of  Church  or  Commonwealth  must 
employ  their  parts  to  the  utmost  for  the  good  of  the  Church  and  the 
Commonwealth.  To  neglect  this  and  say:  I  will  pray  and  meditate, 
is  as  if  your  servant  should  refuse  his  greatest  work  and  tie  himself 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

to  some  lesser,  easier  part.  And  God  hath  commanded  you  some 
way  or  other  to  labour  for  your  daily  bread  and  not  to  live  as  drones 
of  the  sweat  of  others  only."  God's  commandment  to  Adam,  "In 
the  sweat  of  thy  brow",  and  Paul's  declaration,  "He  who  will  not 
work  shall  not  eat",  are  also  quoted.  It  has  always  been  known  of 
the  Quakers  that  even  the  most  well-to-do  of  them  have  had  their 
sons  learn  a  calling,  for  ethical  and  not,  as  Alberti  recommends,  for 
utilitarian  reasons. 

i6.  Here  are  points  where  Pietism,  on  account  of  its  emotional 
character,  takes  a  different  view.  Spener,  although  he  emphasizes  in 
characteristic  Lutheran  fashion  that  labour  in  a  calling  is  worship 
of  God  {Theologische  Bedenken,  III,  p.  445),  nevertheless  holds  that 
the  restlessness  of  business  affairs  distracts  one  from  God,  a  most 
characteristic  difference  from  Puritanism. 

17.  I,  op.  cit.,  p.  242  ."It's  they  that  are  lazy  in  their  callings  that 
can  find  no  time  for  holy  duties."  Hence  the  idea  that  the  cities,  the 
seat  of  the  middle  class  with  its  rational  business  activities,  are  the 
seats  of  ascetic  virtue.  Thus  Baxter  says  of  his  hand-loom  weavers 
in  Kidderminster:  "And  their  constant  converse  and  traffic  with 
London  doth  much  to  promote  civility  and  piety  among  trades- 
men .  .  ."  in  his  autobiography  {Works  of  the  Puritan  Divines, 
p.  38).  That  the  proximity  of  the  capital  should  promote  virtue 
would  astonish  modem  clergymen,  at  least  in  Germany.  But  Pietism 
also  inclined  to  similar  views.  Thus  Spener,  speaking  of  a  young 
colleague,  writes  :  "At  least  it  appears  that  among  the  great  multitudes 
in  the  cities,  though  the  majority  is  quite  depraved,  there  are  never- 
theless a  number  of  good  people  who  can  accomplish  much,  while 
in  villages  often  hardly  anything  good  can  be  found  in  a  whole 
community"  {Theologische  Bedenken,  I,  66,  p.  303).  In  other  words, 
the  peasant  is  little  suited  to  rational  ascetic  conduct.  Its  ethical 
glorification  is  very  modem.  We  cannot  here  enter  into  the  significance 
of  this  and  similar  statements  for  the  question  of  the  relation  of 
asceticism  to  social  classes. 

18.  Take,  for  instance,  the  following  passages  {op.  cit.,  p.  336  f.): 
"Be  wholly  taken  up  in  diligent  business  of  your  lawful  callings 
when  you  are  not  exercised  in  the  more  immediate  service  of  God." 
"Labour  hard  in  your  callings."  "See  that  you  have  a  calling  which 
will  find,  you  employment  for  all  the  time  which  God's  immediate 
service  spareth." 

19.  That  the  peculiar  ethical  valuation  of  labour  and  its  dignity 
was  not  originally  a  Christian  idea  nor  even  peculiar  to  Christianity 
has  recently  again  been  strongly  emphasized  by  Harnack  {Mitt,  des 
Ev.-Soz.  Kongr.,  14.  Folge,  1905,  Nos.  3,4,  p.  48). 

20.  Similarly  in  Pietism  (Spener,  op.  cit..  Ill,  pp.  429-30).  The 
characteristic  Pietist  version  is  that  loyalty  to  a  calling  which  is 
imposed  upon  us  by  the  fall  serves  to  annihilate  one's  own  selfish 



will.  Labour  in  the  calling  is,  as  a  service  of  love  to  one's  neighbour, 
a  duty  of  gratitude  for  God's  grace  (a  Lutheran  idea),  and  hence  it 
is  not  pleasing  to  God  that  it  should  be  performed  reluctantly 
{pp.  cit.,\\\,  p.  272).  The  Christian  should  thus  "prove  himself  as 
industrious  in  his  labour  as  a  worldly  man"  (III,  p.  278).  That  is 
obviously  less  drastic  than  the  Puritan  version . 

21.  The  significance  of  this  important  difference,  which  has  been 
evident  ever  since  the  Benedictine  rules,  can  only  be  shown  by  a 
much  wider  investigation. 

22.  "A  sober  procreation  of  children"  is  its  purpose  according 
to  Baxter.  Similarly  Spener,  at  the  same  time  with  concessions  to 
the  coarse  Lutheran  attitude,  which  makes  the  avoidance  of  im- 
morality, which  is  otherwise  unavoidable,  an  accessory  aim.  Con- 
cupiscence as  an  accompaniment  of  sexual  intercourse  is  sinful  even 
in  marriage.  For  instance,  in  Spener 's  view  it  is  a  result  of  the  fall 
which  transformed  such  a  natural,  divinely  ordained  process  into 
something  inevitably  accompanied  by  sinful  sensations,  which  is 
hence  shameful.  Also  in  the  opinion  of  various  Pietistic  groups  the 
highest  form  of  Christian  marriage  is  that  with  the  preservation  of 
virginity,  the  next  highest  that  in  which  sexual  intercourse  is  only 
indulged  in  for  the  procreation  of  children,  and  so  on  down  to  those 
which  are  contracted  for  purely  erotic  or  external  reasons  and  which 
are,  from  an  ethical  standpoint,  concubinage.  On  these  lower  levels 
a  marriage  entered  into  for  purely  economic  reasons  is  preferred 
(because  after  all  it  is  inspired  by  rational  motives)  to  one  with  erotic 
foundations.  We  may  here  neglect  the  Herrnhut  theory  and  practice 
of  marriage.  Rationalistic  philosophy  (Christian  Wolff)  adopted  the 
ascetic  theory  in  the  form  that  what  was  designed  as  a  means  to  an 
end,  concupiscence  and  its  satisfaction,  should  not  be  made  an  end 
in  itself. 

The  transition  to  a  pure,  hygienically  oriented  utilitarianism  had 
already  taken  place  in  Franklin,  who  took  approximately  the  ethical 
standpoint  of  modern  physicians,  who  understand  by  chastity  the 
restriction  of  sexual  intercourse  to  the  amount  desirable  for  health, 
and  who  have,  as  is  well  known,  even  given  theoretical  advice  as  to 
how  that  should  be  accomplished.  As  soon  as  these  matters  have 
become  the  object  of  purely  rational  consideration  the  same  develop- 
ment has  everywhere  taken  place.  The  Puritan  and  the  hygienic 
sex-rationalist  generally  tread  very  different  paths,  but  here  they 
understand  each  other  perfectly.  In  a  lecture,  a  zealous  adherent  of 
hygienic  prostitution — it  was  a  question  of  the  regulation  of  brothels 
and  prostitutes — defended  the  moral  legitimacy  of  extra-marital 
intercourse  (which  was  looked  upon  as  hygienically  useful)  by  referring 
to  its  poetic  justification  in  the  case  of  Faust  and  Margaret.  To  treat 
Margaret  as  a  prostitute  and  to  fail  to  distinguish  the  powerful  sway 
of  human   passions   from   sexual   intercourse   for   hygienic   reasons, 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

both  are  thoroughly  congenial  to  the  Puritan  standpoint.  Similar, 
for  instance,  is  the  typical  specialist's  view,  occasionally  put  forward 
by  very  distinguished  physicians,  that  a  question  which  extends  so 
far  into  the  subtlest  problems  of  personality  and  of  culture  as  that 
of  sexual  abstinence  should  be  dealt  with  exclusively  in  the  forum 
of  the  physician  (as  an  expert).  For  the  Puritan  the  expert  was  the 
moral  theorist,  now  he  is  the  medical  man ;  but  the  claim  of  com- 
petence to  dispose  of  the  questions  which  seem  to  us  somewhat 
narrow-minded  is,  with  opposite  signs  of  course,  the  same  in  both 

But  with  all  its  prudery,  the  powerful  idealism  of  the  Puritan 
attitude  can  show  positive  accomplishments,  even  from  the  point  of 
view  of  race  conservation  in  a  purely  hygienic  sense,  while  modern 
sex  hygiene,  on  account  of  the  appeal  to  unprejudicedness  which  it 
is  forced  to  make,  is  in  danger  of  destroying  the  basis  of  all  its  success. 
How,  with  the  rationalistic  interpretation  of  sexual  relations  among 
peoples  influenced  by  Puritanism,  a  certain  refinement  and  spiritual 
and  ethical  penetration  of  marital  relationships,  with  a  blossoming 
of  matrimonial  chivalry,  has  grown  up,  in  contrast  to  the  patriarchal 
sentimentality  (Brodeni),  which  is  typical  of  Germany  even  in  the 
circles  of  the  intellectual  aristocracy,  must  necessarily  remain  outside 
this  discussion.  Baptist  influences  have  played  a  part  in  the  emancipa- 
tion of  woman ;  the  protection  of  her  freedom  of  conscience,  and 
the  extension  of  the  idea  of  the  universal  priesthood  to  her  were 
here  also  the  first  breaches  in  patriarchal  ideas. 

23.  This  recurs  again  and  again  in  Baxter.  The  Biblical  basis  is 
regularly  either  the  passages  in  Proverbs,  which  we  already  know 
from  Franklin  (xxii.  29),  or  those  in  praise  of  labour  (xxxi.  16).  Cf. 
op.  cit.,  I,  pp.  377,  382,  etc. 

24.  Even  Zinzendorf  says  at  one  point:  "One  does  not  only  work 
in  order  to  live,  but  one  lives  for  the  sake  of  one's  work,  and  if 
there  is  no  more  work  to  do  one  suffers  or  goes  to  sleep"  (Plitt, 
op.  cit.,  I,  p.  428). 

25.  Also  a  symbol  of  the  Mormons  closes  (after  quotations)  with 
the  words:  "But  a  lazy  or  indolent  man  cannot  be  a  Christian  and 
be  saved.  He  is  destined  to  be  struck  down  and  cast  from  the  hive." 
But  in  this  case  it  was  primarily  the  grandiose  discipline,  half-way 
between  monastery  and  factory,  which  placed  the  individual  before 
the  dilemma  of  labour  or  annihilation  and,  of  course  in  connection 
with  religious  enthusiasm  and  only  possible  through  it,  brought 
forth  the  astonishing  economic  achievements  of  this  sect. 

26.  Hence  (op.  cit.,  I,  p.  380)  its  symptoms  are  carefully  analysed. 
Sloth  and  idleness  are  such  deadly  sins  because  they  have  a  cumu- 
lative character.  They  are  even  regarded  by  Baxter  as  "destroyers  of 
grace"  (op.  cit.,  I,  pp.  279-80),  That  is,  they  are  the  antitheses  of  the 
methodical  life. 



27.  See  above,  chap,  iii,  note  5. 

28.  Baxter,  op.  cit.,  I,  pp.  108  ff.  Especially  striking  are  the  follow- 
ing passages:  "Question:  But  will  not  wealth  excuse  us?  Answer: 
It  may  excuse  you  from  some  sordid  sort  of  work  by  making  you 
more  serviceable  to  another,  but  you  are  no  more  excused  from 
service  of  work  .  .  .  than  the  poorest  man."  Also,  p.  376:  ''Though 
they  [the  rich]  have  no  outward  want  to  urge  them,  they  have  as 

'  great  a  necessity  to  obey  God  ,  .  .  God  hath  strictly  commanded 
it  [labour]  to  all."  Chap,  iv,  note  47. 

29.  Similarly  Spener  (op.  cit.,  Ill,  pp.  338,  425),  who  for  this 
reason  opposes  the  tendency  to  early  retirement  as  morally  objec- 
tionable, and,  in  refuting  an  objection  to  the  taking  of  interest,  that 
the  enjoyment  of  interest  leads  to  laziness,  emphasizes  that  anyone 
who  was  in  a  position  to  live  upon  interest  would  still  be  obligated 
to  work  by  God's  commandment. 

30.  Including  Pietism.  Whenever  a  question  of  change  of  calling 
arises,  Spener  takes  the  attitude  that  after  a  certain  calling  has  once 
been  entered  upon,  it  is  a  duty  of  obedience  to  Providence  to  remain 
and  acquiesce  in  it. 

31.  The  tremendous  force,  dominating  the  whole  of  conduct, 
with  which  the  Indian  religious  teaching  sanctions  economic  tradi- 
tionalism in  terms  of  chances  of  favourable  rebirth,  I  have  shown  in 
the  essays  on  the  Wirtschaftsethik  der  Weltreligionen.  It  is  an  excellent 
example  by  which  to  show  the  difference  between  mere  ethical 
theories  and  the  creation  of  psychological  sanctions  with  a  religious 
background  for  certain  types  of  conduct.  The  pious  Hindu  could 
advance  in  the  scale  of  transmigration  only  by  the  strictly  traditional 
fulfilment  of  the  duties  of  the  caste  of  his  birth.  It  was  the  strongest 
conceivable  religious  basis  for  traditionalism.  In  fact,  the  Indian 
ethic  is  in  this  respect  the  most  completely  consistent  antithesis  of 
the  Puritan,  as  in  another  respect  (traditionalism  of  the  caste  structure) 
it  is  opposed  to  the  Hebrew, 

32.  Baxter,  op.  cit.,  I,  p.  377. 

33.  But  this  does  not  mean  that  the  Puritan  view-point  was  his- 
torically derived  from  the  latter.  On  the  contrary,  it  is  an  expression 
of  the  genuinely  Calvinistic  idea  that  the  cosmos  of  the  world  serves 
the  glory  of  God.  The  utilitarian  turn,  that  the  economic  cosmos 
should  serve  the  good  of  the  many,  the  common  good,  etc.,  was  a 
consequence  of  the  idea  that  any  other  interpretation  of  it  would 
lead  to  aristocratic  idolatry  of  the  flesh,  or  at  least  did  not  serve  the 
glory  of  God,  but  only  fleshly  cultural  ends.  But  God's  will,  as  it  is 
expressed  (chap  iv,  note  34)  in  the  purposeful  arrangements  of  the 
economic  cosmos,  can,  so  far  as  secular  ends  are  in  question  at  all, 
only  be  embodied  in  the  good  of  the  community,  in  imF>ersonal 
usefulness.  Utilitarianism  is  thus,  as  has  already  been  pointed  out, 
the   result  of  the   impersonal   character  of  brotherly  love   and   the 


The    Protestant    Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

repudiation  of  all  glorification  of  this  world  by  the  exclusiveness  of 
the  Puritan  in  majorem  Dei  gloriam. 

How  completely  this  idea,  that  all  idolatry  of  the  flesh  is  incon- 
sistent with  the  glory  of  God  and  hence  unconditionally  bad, 
dominated  ascetic  Protestantism  is  clearly  shown  by  the  doubts  and 
hesitation  which  it  cost  even  Spener,  who  certainly  was  not  infected 
with  democracy,  to  maintain  the  use  of  titles  as  äöidi])opov  against 
numerous  objections.  He  finally  comforted  himself  with  the  reflection 
that  even  in  the  Bible  the  Praetor  Festus  was  given  the  title  of 
KpdriajoQ  by  the  Apostles.  The  political  side  of  the  question  does 
not  arise  in  this  connection. 

34.  "The  inconstant  man  is  a  stranger  in  his  own  house",  says 
Thomas  Adams  {Works  of  the  Puritan  Divines,  p.  77). 

35.  On  this,  see  especially  George  Fox's  remarks  in  the  Friends' 
Library  (ed.  W.  &  T.  Evans,  Philadelphia,  1837),  I,  p.  130. 

36.  Above  all,  this  sort  .of  religious  ethic  cannot  be  regarded  as  a 
reflex  of  economic  conditions.  The  specialization  of  occupations  had, 
if  anything,  gone  further. in  mediaeval  Italy  than  in  the  England  of 
that  period. 

37.  For,  as  is  often  pointed  out  in  the  Puritan  literature,  God 
never  commanded  "love  thy  neighbour  more  than  thyself",  but  only 
as  thyself.  Hence  self-regard  is  also  a  duty.  For  instance,  a  man  who 
can  make  better  use  of  his  possessions,  to  the  greater  glory  of  God, 
than  his  neighbour,  is  not  obliged  by  the  duty  of  brotherly  love  to 
part  with  them. 

38.  Spener  is  also  close  to  this  view-point.  But  even  in  the  case 
of  transfer  from  commercial  occupations  (regarded  as  especially 
dangerous  to  virtue)  to  theology,  he  remains  hesitaiit  and  on  the 
wholeopposed  to  it  (o/).  a7.,  HI,  pp.  435,  443;  I,  p.  524).  The  frequent 
occurrence  of  the  reply  to  just  this  question  (of  the  permissibility  of 
changing  a  calling)  in  Spener's  naturally  biassed  opinion  shows, 
incidentally,  how  eminently  practical  the  different  ways  of  inter- 
preting I  Corinthians  vii  were. 

39.  Such  ideas  are  not  to  be  found,  at  least  in  the  writings,  of  the 
leading  Continental  Pietists.  Spener's  attitude  vacillates  between  the 
Lutheran  (that  of  satisfaction  of  needs)  and  Mercantilist  arguments 
for  the  usefulness  of  the  prosperity  of  commerce,  etc.  {op.  cit.,  HI, 
PP-  330i'332;  I,  p.  418:  "the  cultivation  of  tobacco  brings  money 
into  the  country  and  is  thus  useful,  hence  not  sinful".  Compare 
also  HI,  pp.  426-7,  429,  434).  But  he  does  not  neglect  to  point  out 
that,  as  the  example  of  the  Quakers  and  the  Mennonites  shows, 
one  can  make  profit  and  yet  remain  pious  ;  in  fact,  that  even  especially 
high  profits,  as  we  shall  point  out  later,  may  be  the  direct  result  of 
pious  uprightness  {op.  cit.,  p.  435). 

.  40.  These  views  of  Baxter  are  not  a  reflection  of  the  economic 
environment  in  which  he  lived.  On  the  contrary,  his  autobiography 



shows  that  the  success  of  his  home  missionary  work  was  partly  due 
to  the  fact  that  the  Kidderminster  tradesmen  were  not  rich,  but 
only  earned  food  and  raiment,  and  that  the  master  craftsmen  had 
to  live  from  hand  to  mouth  just  as  their  employees  did.  "It  is  the 
poor  who  receive  the  glad  tidings  of  the  Gospel."  Thomas  Adams 
remarks  on  the  pursuit  of  gain:  "He  [the  knowing  man]  knows  .  .  . 
that  money  may  make  a  man  richer,  not  better,  and  thereupon 
chooseth  rather  to  sleep  with  a  good  conscience  than  a  full  purse  .  .  . 
therefore  desires  no  more  wealth  than  an  honest  man  may  bear 
away"  {Works  of  the  Puritan  Divines,  LI).  But  he  does  want  that 
much,  and  that  means  that  every  formally  honest  gain  is  legitimate. 

41.  Thus  Baxter,  op.  cit.,  I,  chap,  x,  i,  9  (par.  24)  ;  I,  p.  378,  2. 
In  Prov.  xxiii.  4:  "Weary  thyself  not  to  be  rich"  nKeans  only  "riches 
for  our  fleshly  ends  must  not  ultimately  be  intended".  Possession  in 
the  feudal-seigneurial  form  of  its  use  is  what  is  odious  (cf .  the  remark, 
op.  cit.,  I,  p.  380,  on  the  "debauched  part  of  the  gentry"),  not  posses- 
sion in  itself.  Milton,  in  the  first  Defensio  pro  populo  Anglicano,  held 
the  well-known  theory  that  only  the  middle  class  can  maintain 
virtue.  That  middle  class  here  means  bourgeoisie  as  against  the 
aristocracy  is  shown  by  the  statement  that  both  luxury  and  necessity 
are  unfavourable  to  virtue. 

42.  This  is  most  important.  We  may  again  add  the  general  remark: 
we  are  here  naturally  not  so  much  concerned  with  what  concepts 
the  theological  moralists  developed  in  their  ethical  theories,  but, 
rather,  what  was  the  effective  morality  in  the  life  of  believers — that 
is,  how  the  religious  background  of  economic  ethics  affected  practice. 
In  the  casuistic  literature  of  Catholicism,  especially  the  Jesuit,  one 
can  occasionally  read  discussions  which — for  instance  on  the  question 
of  the  justification  of  interest,  into  which  we  do  not  enter  here — sound 
like  those  of  many  Protestant  casuists,  or  even  seem  to  go  farther  in 
permitting  or  tolerating  things.  The  Puritans  have  since  often 
enough  been  reproached  that  their  ethic  is  at  bottom  the  same  as 
that  of  the  Jesuits.  Just  as  the  Calvinists  often  cite  Catholic  moralists, 
not  only  Thomas  Aquinas,  Bernhard  of  Clairvaux,  Bonaventura, 
etc.,  but  also  contemporaries,  the  Catholic  casuists  also  took  notice 
of  heretical  ethics.  We  cannot  discuss  all  that  here. 

But  quite  apart  from  the  decisive  fact  of  the  religious  sanction  of 
the  ascetic  life  for  the  layman,  there  is  the  fundamental  difference, 
even  in  theory,  that  these  latitudinarian  ideas  within  Catholicism 
were  the  products  of  peculiarly  lax  ethical  theories,  not  sanctioned 
by  the  authority  of  the  Church,  but  opposed  by  the  most  serious 
and  strictest  disciples  of  it.  On  the  other  hand,  the  Protestant  idea 
of  the  calling  in  effect  placed  the  most  serious  enthusiasts  for 
asceticism  in  the  service  of  capitalistic  acquisition.  What  in  the  one 
case  might  under  certain  conditions  be  allowed,  appeared  in  the 
other  as  a  positive  moral  good.  The  fundamental  differences  of  the 


f —    The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

two  ethics,  very  important  in  practice,  have  been  finally  crystallized, 
even  for  modern  times,  by  the  Jansenist  controversy  and  the  Bull 

43.  "You  may  labour  in  that  manner  as  tendeth  most  to  your 
success  and  lawful  gain.  You  are  bound  to  improve  all  your  talents." 
There  follows  the  passage  cited  above  in  the  text.  A  direct  parallel 
between  the  pursuit  of  wealth  in  the  Kingdom  of  Heaven  and  the 
pursuit  of  success  in  an  earthly  calling  is  found  in  Janeway,  Heaven 
upon  Earth  {Works  of  the  Puritan  Divines,  p,  275). 

44.  Even  in  the  Lutheran  Confession  of  Duke  Christopher  of 
/  Württemberg,  which  was  submitted  to  the  Council  of  Trent,  objection 
J   is  made  to  the  oath  of  poverty.  He  who  is  poor  in  his  station  should 

bear  it,  but  if  he  swore  to  remain  so  it  would  be  the  same  as  if  he 
swore  to  remain  sick  or  to  maintain  a  bad  reputation. 

45.  Thus  in  Baxter  and  also  in  Duke  Christopher's  confession. 
Compare  further  pasages  like:  "...  the  vagrant  rogues  whose  lives 
are  nothing  but  an  exorbitant  course;  the  main  begging",  etc. 
(Thomas  Adams,  Works  of  the  Puritan  Divines;  p.  259).  Even  Calvin 
had  strictly  forbidden  begging,  and  the  Dutch  Synods  campaigned 
against  licences  to  beg.  During  the  epoch  of  the  Stuarts,  especially 
Laud's  regime  under  Charles  I,  which  had  systematically  developed 
the  principle  of  public  poor  relief  and  provision  of  work  for  the  un- 
employed, the  Puritan  battle-cry  was:  "Giving  alms  is  no  charity" 
(title  of  Defoe's  later  well-known  work).  Towards  the  end  of  the 
seventeenth  century  they  began  the  deterrent  system  of  workhouses 
for  the  unemployed  (compare  Leonard,  Early  History  of  English  Poor 
Relief,  Cambridge,  1900,  and  H.  Levy,  Die  Grundlagen  des  ökono- 
mischen Liberalismus  in  der  Geschichte  der  englischen  Volkswirtschaft, 
Jena,  1912,  pp.  69  ff.). 

46.  The  President  of  the  Baptist  Union  of  Great  Britain  and 
Ireland,  G.  White,  said  emphatically  in  his  inaugural  address  before 
the  assembly  in  London  in  1903  (Baptist  Handbook,  1904,  p.  104): 
"The  best  men  on  the  roll  of  our  Puritan  Churches  were  men  of 

y_affairs,  who  believed  that  religion  should  permeate  the  whole  of  life.* 

47.  Here  also  lies  the  characteristic  difference  from  all  feudal 
view -points.  For  the  latter  only  the  descendants  of  the  parvenu 
(political  or  social)  can  reap  the  benefit  of  his  success  in  a  recognized 
station  (characteristically  expressed  in  the  Spanish  Hidalgo  =  hijo 
d'algo  =filius  de  aliquo  where  the  aliquid  means  an  inherited  properly) 
However  rapidly  these  differences  are  to-day  fading  out  in  the  rapid 
change  and  Europeanization  of  the  American  national  character, 
nevertheless  the  precisely  opposite  bourgeois  attitude  which  glorifies 
business  success  and  earnings  as  a  symptom  of  mental  achievement, 
but  has  no  respect  for  mere  inherited  wealth,  is  still  sometimes 
represented  there.  On  the  other  hand,  in  Europe  (as  James  Bryce 
once  remarked)  in  effect  almost  every  social  honour  is  now  purchasable 



for  money,  so  long  as  the  buyer  has  not  himself  stood  behind  the 
counter,  and  carries  out  the  necessary  metamorphosis  of  his  property 
(formation  of  trusts,  etc.).  Against  the  aristocracy  of  blood,  see  for 
instance  Thomas  Adams,  Works  of  the  Puritan  Divines,  p.  216. 

48.  That  was,  for  instance,  already  true  of  the  founder  of  the 
Familist   sect,    Hendrik   Nicklaes,    who   was    a   merchant    (Barclay, 

^Jnner  Life  of  the  Religious  Societies  of  the  Commonwealth,  p.  34). 

49.  This  is,  for  instance,  definitely  true  for  Hoornbeek,  since 
Matt.  V.  5  and  i  Tim.  iv.  8  also  made  purely  worldly  promises  to 
the  saints  {op.  cit.,  I,  p.  193).  Everything  is  the  work  of  God's  Pro- 
vidence, but  in  particular  He  takes  care  of  His  own.  Op.  cit.,  p.  192: 
"Super  alios  autem  summa  cura  et  modis  singularissimis  versatur 
Dei  Providentia  circa  fideles."  There  follows  a  discussion  of  how 
one  can  know  that  a  stroke  of  luck  comes  not  from  the  communis 
Providentia,  but  from  that  special  care.  Bailey  also  {op.  cit.,  p.  igi) 
explains  success  in  worldly  labours  by  reference  to  Providence.  That 
prosperity  is  often  the  reward  of  a  godly  life  is  a  common  expression 
in  Quaker  writings  (for  example  see  such  an  expression  as  late  as 
1848  in  Selection  from  the  Christian  Advices,  issued  by  the  General 
Meeting  of  the  Society  of  Friends,  London,  sixth  edition,  1851, 
p.  209).  We  shall  return  to  the  connection  with  the  Quaker  ethics. 

50.  Thomas  Adams's  analysis  of  the  quarrel  of  Jacob  and  Esau 
may  serve  as  an  example  of  this  attention  to  the  patriarchs,  which  is 
equally  characteristic  of  the  Puritan  view  of  life  {Works  of  the  Puritan 
Divines,  p.  235):  "His  [Esau's]  folly  may  be  argued  from  the  base 
estimation  of  the  birthright"  [the  passage  is  also  important  for  the 
development  of  the  idea  of  the  birthright,  of  which  more  later]  "that 
he  would  so  lightly  pass  from  it  and  on  so  easy  condition  as  a  pottage." 
But  then  it  was  perfidious  that  he  would  not  recognize  the  sale, 
charging  he  had  been  cheated.  He  is,  in  other  words,  "a  cunning 
hunter,  a  man  of  the  fields";  a  man  of  irrational,  barbarous  life; 
while  Jacob,  "a  plain  man,  dwelling  in  tents",  represents  the  "man 
of  grace". 

The  sense  of  an  inner  relationship  to  Judaism,  which  is  expressed 
even  in  the  well-known  work  of  Roosevelt,  Köhler  {op.  cit.)  found 
widespread  among  the  peasants  in  Holland.  But,  on  the  other  hand, 
Puritanism  was  fully  conscious  of  its  differences  from  Hebrew  ethics 
in  practical  affairs,  as  Prynne's  attack  on  the  Jews  (apropos  of  Cromwell's 
proposals  for  toleration)  plainly  shows.  See  below,  note  58. 

5 1 .  Zur  bäuerlichen  Glaubens-  und  Sittenlehre.  Von  einem  thüring- 
ischen Landpfarrer,  second  edition,  Gotha,  1890,  p.  16.  The  peasants 
who  are  here  described  are  characteristic  products  of  the  Lutheran 
Church.  Again  and  again  I  wrote  Lutheran  in  the  margin  when  the 
excellent  author  spoke  of  peasant  religion  in  general. 

52.  Compare  for  instance  the  passage  cited  in  Ritschl,  Pietismus 
n,  p.  158.  Spener  also  bases  his  objections  to  change  of  calling  and 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

pursuit  of  gain   partly  on   passages   in   Jesus   Sirach.    Theologische 
Bedenken,  III,  p.  426. 

53.  It  is  true  that  Bailey,  nevertheless,  recommends  reading  them, 
and  references  to  the  Apocrypha  occur  now  and  then,  though  naturally 
not  often.  I  can  remember  none  to  Jesus  Sirach  just  now  (though 
perhaps  by  chance). 

54.  Where  outward  success  comes  to  persons  evidently  damned, 
the  Calvinist  (as  for  instance  Hoombeek)  comforts  himself  with  the 
reflection,  following  the  theory  of  stubbornness,  that  God  allows  it 
to  them  in  order  to  harden  them  and  make  their  doom  the  more 

55.  We  cannot  go  farther  into  this  point  in  this  connection.  We 
are  here  interested  only  in  the  formalistic  character  of  Puritan 
righteousness.  On  the  significance  of  Old  Testament  ethics  for  the 
lex  natures  there  is  much  in  Troeltsch's  Soziallehren. 

56.  The  binding  character  of  the  ethical  norms  of  the  Scriptures 
goes  for  Baxter  (Christian  Directory,  III,  p.  173  f.)  so  far  that  they 
are  (i)  only  a  transcript  of  the  law  of  nature,  or  (2)  bear  the  "express 
character  of  universality  and  perpetuity". 

57.  For  instance   Dowden  (with  reference   to   Bunyan),  op.  cit., 

P-  39- 

58.  More  on  this  point  in  the  essays  on  the  Wirtschaftsethik  der 
Weltreligionen.  The  enormous  influence  which,  for  instance,  the 
second  commandment  ("thou  shalt  not  make  unto  thee  a  graven 
image")  has  had  on  the  development  of  the  Jewish  character,  its 
rationality  and  abhorrence  of  sensuous  culture,  cannot  be  analysed 
here.  However,  it  may  perhaps  be  noted  as  characteristic  that  one 
of  the  leaders  of  the  Educational  Alliance  in  the  United  States,  an 
organization  which  carries  on  the  Americanization  of  Jewish  immi- 
grants on  a  grand  scale  and  with  astonishing  success,  told  me  that 
one  of  the  first  purposes  aimed  at  in  all  forms  of  artistic  and  social 
educational  work  was  emancipation  from  the  second  commandment. 
To  the  Israelite's  prohibition  of  any  anthropomorphic  representation 
of  God  corresponds  in  Puritanism  the  somewhat  different  but  in 
effect  similar  prohibition  of  idolatry  of  the  flesh. 

As  far  as  Talmudic  Judaism  is  concerned,  some  fundamental 
traits  of  Puritan  morality  are  certainly  related  to  it.  For  instance,  it 
is  stated  in  the  Talmud  (in  Wünsche,  Bdbyl.  Talmud,  II,  p.  34) 
that  it  is  better  and  will  be  more  richly  rewarded  by  God  if  one 
does  a  good  deed  for  duty's  sake  than  one  which  is  not  commanded 
by  the  law.  In  other  words,  loveless  fulfillment  of  duty  stands  higher 
ethically  than  sentimental  philanthropy.  The  Puritan  ethics  would 
accept  that  in  essentials.  Kant  in  effect  also  comes  close  to  it,  being 
partly  of  Scotch  ancestry  and  strongly  influenced  by  Pietism  in  his 
bringing  up.  Though  we  cannot  discuss  the  subject  here,  many  of 
his  formulations  are  closely  related  to  ideas  of  ascetic  Protestantism. 



But  nevertheless  the  Talmudic  ethic  is  deeply  saturated  with  Oriental 
traditionalism.  "R.  Tanchum  said  to  Ben  Chanilai,  'Never  alter  a 
custom'"  (Gemara  to  Mischna.  VII,  i,  86b,  No.  93,  in  Wünsche.  It 
is  a  question  of  the  standard  of  living  of  day  labourers).  The  only 
exception  to  this  conformity  is  relation  to  strangers. 

Moreover,  the  Puritan  conception  of  lawfulness  as  proof  evidently 
provided  a  much  stronger  motive  to  positive  action  than  the  Jewish 
unquestioned  fulfillment  of  all  commandments.  The  idea  that  success 
reveals  the  blessing  of  God  is  of  course  not  unknown  to  Judaism. 
But  the  fundamental  difference  in  religious  and  ethical  significance 
which  it  took  on  for  Judaism  on  account  of  the  double  ethic  pre- 
vented the  appearance  of  similar  results  at  just  the  most  important 
point.  Acts  toward  a  stranger  were  allowed  which  were  forbidden 
toward  a  brother.  For  that  reason  alone  it  was  impossible  for  success 
in  this  field  of  what  was  not  commanded  but  only  allowed  to  be  a 
sign  of  religious  worth  and  a  motive  to  methodical  conduct  in  the 
way  in  which  it  was  for  the  Puritan.  On  this  whole  problem,  which 
Sombart,  in  his  book  Die  Juden  und  das  Wirtschaftsleben,  has  often 
dealt  with  incorrectly,  see  the  essays  referred  to  above.  The  details 
have  no  place  here. 

The  Jewish  ethics,  however  strange  that  may  at  first  sound, 
remained  very  strongly  traditionalistic.  We  can  likewise  not  enter 
into  the  tremendous  change  which  the  inner  attitude  toward  the 
world  underwent  with  the  Christian  form  of  the  ideas  of  grace  and 
salvation  which  contained  in  a  peculiar  way  the  seeds  of  new  possi- 
bilities of  development.  On  Old  Testament  lawfulness  compare 
for  example  Ritschl,  Die  christliche  Lehre  von  der  Rechtfertigung  und 
Versöhnung,  II,  p.  265. 

To  the  English  Puritans,  the  Jews  of  their  time  were  representatives 
of  that  type  of  capitalism  which  was  involved  in  war,  Government 
contracts.  State  monopolies,  speculative  promotions,  and  the  con- 
struction and  financial  projects  of  princes,  which  they  themselves 
condemned.  In  fact  the  difference  may,  in  general,  with  the  necessary 
qualifications,  be  formulated:  that  Jewish  capitalism  was  speculative 
pariah-capitalism,  while  the  Puritan  was  bourgeois  organization  of 

59.  The  truth  of  the  Holy  Scriptures  follows  for  JBaxter  in  the 
last  analysis  from  the  "wonderful  difference  of  the  godly  and  ungodly", 
the  absolute  diflFerence  of  the  renewed  man  from  others,  and  God's 
evident  quite  special  care  for  His  chosen  people  (which  may  of 
course  be  expressed  in  temptations).  Christian  Directory,  I,  p.  165. 

60.  As  a  characterization  of  this,  it  is  only  necessary  to  read 
how  tortuously  even  Bunyan,  who  still  occasionally  approaches  the 
atmosphere  of  Luther's  Freiheit  eines  Christenmenschen  (for  example 
in  Of  the  Law  and  a  Christian,  Works  of  the  Puritan  Divines,  p.  254), 
reconciles  himself  with  the  parable  of  the  Pharisee  and  the  Publican 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

(see  the  sermon  The  Pharisee  and  the  Publican,  op.  cit.,  p.  loo). 
Why  is  the  Pharisee  condemned?  He  does  not  truly  keep  God's 
commandments,  for  he  is  evidently  a  sectarian  who  is  only  concerned 
with  external  details  and  ceremonies  (p.  107),  but  above  all  because 
he  ascribes  merit  to  himself ,  and  at  the  same  time,  like  the  Quakers, 
thanks  God  for  virtue  by  misuse  of  His  name.  In  a  sinful  manner 
he  exalts  this  virtue  (p.  126),  and  thus  implicitly  contests  God's 
predestination  (p.  139).  His  prayer  is  thus  idolatry  of  the  flesh,  and 
that  is  the  reason  it  is  sinful.  On  the  other  hand,  the  publican  is,  as 
the  honesty  of  his  confession  shows,  spiritually  reborn,  for,  as  it  is 
put  with  a  characteristic  Puritan  mitigation  of  the  Lutheran  sense  oi 
sin,  "to  a  right  and  sincere  conviction  of  sin  there  must  be  a  con- 
viction of  the  probability  of  mercy"  (p.  209). 

'61.  Printed  in  Gardiner's  Constitutional  Documents.  One  may 
compare  this  struggle  against  anti-authoritarian  asceticism  with 
Louis  XIV's  persecution  of  Port  Royal  and  the  Jansenists. 

62.  Calvin's  own  standpoint  was  in  this  respect  distinctly  less 
drastic,  at  least  in  so  far  as  the  finer  aristocratic  forms  of  the  enjoy- 
ment of  life  were  concerned.  The  only  limitation  is  the  Bible.  Whoever 
adheres  to  it  and  has  a  good  conscience,  need  not  observe  his  every 
impulse  to  enjoy  life  with  anxiety.  The  discussion  in  Chapter  X  of 
the  Instit.  Christ  (for  instance,  "nee  fugere  ea  quoque  possumus 
quae  videntur  oblectatione  magis  quam  necessitate  inservire")  might 
in  itself  have  opened  the  way  to  a  very  lax  practice.  Along  with 
increasing  anxiety  over  the  certitudo  salutis  the  most  important 
circumstance  for  the  later  disciples  was,  however,  as  we  shall  point 
out  in  another  place,  that  in  the  era  of  the  ecclesia  militans  it  was 
the  small  bourgeoisie  who  were  the  principal  representatives  of 
Calvinistic  ethics. 

63.  Thomas  Adams  {Works  of  the  Puritan  Divines,  p.  3)  begins  a 
sermon  on  the  "three  divine  sisters"  ("but  love  is  the  greatest  of 
these")  with  the  remark  that  even  Paris  gave  the  golden  apple  to 
Aphrodite ! 

64.  Novels  and  the  like  should  not  be  read;  they  are  "wastetimes" 
(Baxter,  Christian  Directory,  I,  p.  51).  The  decline  of  lyric  poetry 
and  folk-music,  as  well  as  the  drama,  after  the  Elizabethan  age  in 
England  is  well  known.  In  the  pictorial  arts  Puritanism  perhaps  did 
not  find  very  much  to  suppress.  But  very  striking  is  the  decline 
from  what  seemed  to  be  a  promising  musical  beginning  (England's 
part  in  the  history  of  music  was  by  no  means  unimportant)  to  that 
absolute  musical  vacuum  which  we  find  typical  of  the  Anglo-Saxon 
peoples  later,  and  even  to-day.  Except  for  the  negro  churches,  and 
the  professional  singers  whom  the  Churches  now  engage  as  attractions 
(Trinity  Church  in  Boston  in  1904  for  $8,000  annually),  in  America 
one  also  hears  as  community  singing  in  general  only  a  noise  which 
is  intolerable  to  German  ears  (partly  analogous  things  in  Holland  also). 



65.  Just  the  same  in  Holland,  as  the  reports  of  the  Synods  show. 
(See  the  resolutions  on  the  Maypole  in  the  Reitmaas  Collection, 
VI,  78,  139.) 

66.  That  the  "Renaissance  of  the  Old  Testament"  and  the  Pietistic 
orientation  to  certain  Christian  attitudes  hostile  to  beauty  in  art, 
which  in  the  last  analysis  go  back  to  Isaiah  and  the  22nd  Psalm, 
must  have  contributed  to  making  ugliness  more  of  a  possible  object 
for  art,  and  that  the  Puritan  repudiation  of  idolatry  of  the  flesh 
played  a  part,  seems  likely.  But  in  detail  everything  seems  uncertain. 
In  the  Roman  Church  quite  different  demagogic  motives  led  to 
outwardly  similar  effects,  but,  however,  with  quite  different  artistic 
results.  Standing  before  Rembrandt's  Saul  and  David  (in  the 
Mauritshuis),  one  seems  directly  to  feel  the  powerful  influence  of 
Puritan  emotions.  The  excellent  analysis  of  Dutch  cultural  influences 
in  Carl  Neumann's  Rembra7tdt  probably  gives  everything  that  for 
the  time  being  we  can  know  about  how  far  ascetic  Protestantism  may 
be  credited  with  a  positive  fructifying  influence  on  art. 

67.  The  most  complex  causes,  into  which  we  cannot  go  here,  wei:e 
responsible  for  the  relatively  smaller  extent  to  which  the  Calvinistic 
ethic  penetrated  practical  life  there.  The  ascetic  spirit  began  to 
wealcen  in  Holland  as  early  as  the  beginning  of  the  seventeenth 
century  (the  English  Congregationalists  who  fled  to  Holland  in  1608 
were  disturbed  by  the  lack  of  respect  for  the  Sabbath  there),  but 
especially  under  the  Stadtholder  Frederick  Henry.  Moreover,  Dutch 
Puritanism  had  in  general  much  less  expansive  power  than  English. 
The  reasons  for  it  lay  in  part  in  the  political  constitution  (par- 
ticularistic confederation  of  towns  and  provinces)  and  in  the  far 
smaller  degree  of  military  force  (the  War  of  Independence  was  soon 
fought  principally  with  the  money  of  Amsterdam  and  mercenary 
armies.  English  preachers  illustrated  the  Babylonian  confusion  of 
tongues  by  reference  to  the  Dutch  Arrny).  Thus  the  burden  of  the 
war  of  religion  was  to  a  large  extent  passed  on  to  others,  but  at  the 
same  time  a  part  of  their  political  power  was  lost.  On  the  other  hand, 
Cromwell's  army,  even  though  it  was  partly  conscripted,  felt  that  it 
was  an  army  of  citizens.  It  was,  to  be  sure,  all  the  more  characteristic 
that  just  this  army  adopted  the  abolition  of  conscription  in  its  pro- 
gramme, because  one  could  fight  justly  only  for  the  glory  of  God 
in  a  cause  hallowed  by  conscience,  but  not  at  the  whim  of  a  sovereign. 
The  constitution  of  the  British  Army,  so  immoral  to  traditional 
German  ideas,  had  its  historical  origin  in  very  moral  motives,  and 
was  an  attainment  of  soldiers  who  had  never  been  beaten.  Only  after 
the  Restoration  was  it  placed  in  the  service  of  the  interests  of  the 
Crown . 

The  Dutch  schutterijen,  the  champions  of  Calvinism  in  the  period 
of  the  Great  War,  only  half  a  generation  after  the  Synod  of  Dordrecht, 
do  not  look  in  the  least  ascetic  in  the  pictures  of  Hals.  Protests  of 

The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

the  Synods  against  their  conduct  occur  frequently.  The  Dutch 
concept  of  Deftigkeit  is  a  mixture  of  bourgeois-rational  honesty  and 
patrician  consciousness  of  status.  The  division  of  church  pews 
according  to  classes  in  the  Dutch  churches  shows  the  aristocratic 
character  of  this  religion  even  to-day.  The  continuance  of  the  town 
economy  hampered  industry.  It  prospered  almost  alone  through 
refugees,  and  hence  only  sporadically.  Nevertheless,  the  worldly 
asceticism  of  Calvinism  and  Pietism  was  an  important  influence  in 
Holland  in  the  same  direction  as  elsewhere.  Also  in  the  sense  to  be 
referred  to  presently  of  ascetic  compulsion  to  save,  as  Groen  van 
Prinsterer  shows  in  the  passage  cited  below,  note  87. 

Moreover,  the  almost  complete  lack  of  belles  lettres  in  Calvinistic 
Holland  is  of  course  no  accident  (see  for  instance  Busken-Huet, 
Het  Land  van  Rembrandt).  The  significance  of  Dutch  religion  as 
ascetic  compulsion  to  save  appears  clearly  even  in  the  eighteenth 
century  in  the  writings  of  Albertus  Haller.  For  the  characteristic 
peculiarities  of  the  Dutch  attitude  toward  art  and  its  motives,  compare 
for  example  the  autobiographical  remarks  of  Constantine  Huyghens 
(written  in  1629-31)  in  Oud  Holland,  1891.  The  work  of  Groen  van 
Prinsterer,  La  Hollande  et  Vinfluence  de  Calvin,  1864,  already  referred 
to,  offers  nothing  important  for  our  problems.  The  Ntew  Netherlands 
colony  in  America  was  socially  a  half-feudal  settlement  of  patroons, 
merchants  who  advanced  capital,  and,  unlike  New  England,  it  was 
difficult  to  persuade  small  people  to  settle  there. 

68.  We  may  recall  that  the  Puritan  town  government  closed  the 
theatre  at  Stratford-on-Avon  while  Shakespeare  was  still  alive  and 
residing  there  in  his  last  years,  Shakespeare's  hatred  and  contempt 
of  the  Puritans  appear  on  every  occasion.  As  late  as  1777  the  City 
of  Birmingham  refused  to  license  a  theatre  because  it  was  conducive 
to  slothfulness,  and  hence  unfavourable  to  trade  (Ashley,  Birmingham 
Trade  and  Commerce,  191 3). 

69.  Here  also  it  was  of  decisive  importance  that  for  the  Puritan 
there  was  only  the  alternative  of  divine  will  or  earthly  vanity.  Hence 
for  him  there  could  be  no  adiaphora.  As  we  have  already  pointed 
out,  Calvin's  own  view  was  different  in  this  respect.  What  one  eats, 
wears,  etc.,  as  long  as  there  is  no  enslavement  of  the  soul  to  earthly 
desire  as  a  result,  is  indifferent.  Freedom  from  the  world  should  be 
expressed,  as  for  the  Jesuits,  in  indifference,  which  for  Calvin  meant 
an  indifferent,  un covetous  use  of  whatever  goods  the  earth  offered 
(pp.  409  ff.  of  the  original  edition  of  the  Jnstit.  Christ). 

70.  The  Quaker  attitude  in  this  respect  is  well  known.  But  as 
early  as  the  beginning  of  the  seventeenth  century  the  heaviest  storms 
shook  the  pious  congregation  of  exiles  in  Amsterdam  for  a  decade 
over  the  fashionable  hats  and  dresses  of  a  preacher's  wife  (charmingly 
described  in  Dexter's  Congregationalism  of  the  Last  Three  Hundred 
Years).  Sanford  (op.  cit.)  has  pointed  out  that  the  present-day  male 



hair-cut  is  that  of  the  ridiculous  Roundheads,  and  the  equally  ridiculous 
(for  the  time)  male  clothing  of  the  Puritans  is  at  least  in  principle 
fundamentally  the  same  as  that  of  to-day. 

71.  On  this  point  again  see  Veblen's  Theory  of  Business  Enterprise. 

yz.  Again  and  again  we  come  back  to  this  attitude.  It  explains 
statements  like  the  following:  "Every  penny  which  is  paid  upon 
yourselves  and  children  and  friends  must  be  done  as  by  God's  own 
appointment  and  to  serve  and  please  Him.  Watch  narrowly,  or  else 
that  thievish,  carnal  self  will  leave  God  nothing"  (Baxter,  op.  cit.,  I, 
p.  108).  This  is  decisive;  what  is  expended  for  personal  ends  is 
withdrawn  from' the  service  of  God's  glory. 

73.  Quite  rightly  it  is  customary  to  recall  (Dowden,  op.  cit.)  that 
Cromwell  saved  Raphael's  drawings  and  Mantegna's  Triumph  of 
Ctssar  from  destruction,  while  Charles  II  tried  to  sell  them.  More- 
over, the  society  of  the  Restoration  was  distinctly  cool  or  even  hostile 
to  English  national  literature.  In  fact  the  influence  of  Versailles  was 
all-powerful  at  courts  everywhere.  A  detailed  analysis  of  the  influence 
of  the  unfavourable  atmosphere  for  the  spontaneous  enjoyment  of 
everyday  life  on  the  spirit  of  the  higher  types  of  Puritan,  and  the 
men  who  went  through  the  schooling  of  Puritanism,  is  a  task  which 
cannot  be  undertaken  within  the  limits  of  this  sketch.  Washington 
Irving  {Bracebridge  Hall)  forniulates  it  in  the  usual  English  terms 
thus:  "It  [he  says  political  freedom,  we  should  say  Puritanism] 
evinces  less  play  of  the  fancy,  but  more  power  of  the  imagination." 
It  is  only  necessary  to  think  of  the  place  of  the  Scotch  in  science, 
literature,  and  technical  invention,  as  well  as  in  the  business  life  of 
Great  Britain,  to  be  convinced  that  this  remark  approaches  the  truth, 
even  though  put  somewhat  too  narrowly.  We  cannot  speak  here  of 
its  significance  for  the  development  of  technique  and  the  empirical 
sciences.  The  relation  itself  is  always  appearing  in  everyday  life.  For 
the  Quakers,  for  instance,  the  recreatjons  which  are  permissible 
(according  to  Barclay)  are:  visiting  of  friends,  reading  of  historical 
works,  mathematical  and  physical  experiments,  gardening,  discussion 
of  business  and  other  occurrences  in  the  world,  etc.  The  reason  is 
that  pointed  out  above. 

74.  Already  very  finely  analysed  in  Carl  Neumann's  Rembrandt, 
which  should  be  compared  with  the  above  remarks  in  general. 

75.  Thus  Baxter  in  the  passage  cited  above,  I,  p.  108,  and 

76.  Compare  the  well-known  description  of  Colonel  Hutchinson 
(often  quoted,  for  instance,  in  Sanford,  op.  cit.,  p.  57)  in  the  biography 
written  by  his  widow.  After  describing  all  his  chivalrous  virtues  and 
his  cheerful,  joyous  nature,  it  goes  on:  "He  was  wonderfully  neat, 
cleanly,  and  genteel  in  his  habit,  and  had  a  very  good  fancy  in  it ; 
but  he  left  off  very  early  the  wearing  of  anything  that  was  costly." 
Quite  similar  is  the  ideal  of  the  educated  and  highly  civilized  Puritan 

The   Protestant   Ethic   and  the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

woman  who,  however,  is  penurious  of  two  things:  (i)  time,  and 
(2)  expenditure  for  pomp  and  pleasure,  as  drawn  in  Baxter's  funeral 
oration  for  Mary  Hammer  {Works  of  the  Puritan  Divines,  p.  533). 

77.  I  think,  among  many  other  examples,  especially  of  a  manu- 
facturer unusually  successful  in  his  business  ventures,  and  in  his 
later  years  very  wealthy,  who,  when  for  the  treatment  of  a  trouble- 
some digestive  disorder  the  doctor  prescribed  a  few  oysters  a  day, 
could  only  be  brought  to  comply  with  difficulty.  Very  considerable 
gifts  for  philanthropic  purposes  which  he  made  during  his  lifetime 
and  a  certain  openhandedness  showed,  on  the  other  hand,  that  it 
was  simply  a  survival  of  that  ascetic  feeling  which  looks  upon  enjoy- 
ment of  wealth  for  oneself  as  morally  reprehensible,  but  has  nothing 
whatever  to  do  with  avarice. 

78.  The  separation  of  workshop,  office,  of  business  in  general  and 
the  private  dwelling,  of  firm  and  name,  of  business  capital  and  private 
wealth,  the  tendency  to  make  of  the  business  a  corpus  mysticum  (at 
least  in  the  case  of  corporate  property)  all  lay  in  this  direction.  On 
this,  see  my  Handelsgesellschaften  im  Mittelalter  {Gesammelte  Aufsätze 
zur  Sozial-  und  Wirtschaftsgeschichte,  pp.  312  ff.). 

79.  Sombart  in  his  Kapitalismus  (first  edition)  has  already  well 
pointed  out  this  characteristic  phenomenon.  It  must,  however,  be  noted 
that  the  accumulation  of  wealth  springs  from  two  quite  distinct  psycho- 
logical sources.  One  reaches  into  the  dimmest  antiquity  and  is  expressed 
in  foundations,  family  fortunes,  and  trusts,  as  well  as  much  more  purely 
and  clearly  in  the  desire  to  die  weighted  down  with  a  great  burden 
of  material  goods ;  above  all  to  insure  the  continuation  of  a  business 
even  at  the  cost  of  the  personal  interests  of  the  majority  of  one's 
children.  In  such  cases  it  is,  besides  the  desire  to  give  one's  own 
creation  an  ideal  life  beyond  one's  death,  and  thus  to  maintain  the 
splendor  familiee  and  extend  the  personality  of  the  founder,  a  question 
of,  so  to  speak,  fundamentally  egocentric  motives.  That  is  not  the 
case  with  that  bourgeois  motive  with  which  we  are  here  dealing. 
There  the  motto  of  asceticism  is  "Entsagen  sollst  du,  sollst  entsagen" 
in  the  positive  capitalistic  sense  of  "Erwerben  sollst  du,  sollst 
erwerben".  In  its  pure  and  simple  non -rationality  it  is  a  sort  of 
categorical  imperative.  Only  the  glory  of  God  and  one's  own  duty, 
not  human  vanity,  is  the  motive  for  the  Puritans;  and  to-day  only 
the  duty  to  one's  calling.  pleases  anyone  to  illustrate  an  idea  by 
its  extreme  consequences,  we  may  recall  the  theory  of  certain  American 
millionaires,  that  their  millions  should  not  be  left  to  their  children, 
so  that  they  will  not  be  deprived  of  the  good  moral  effects  of  the 
necessity  of  working  and  earning  for  themselves.  To-day  that  idea  is 
certainly  no  more  than  a  theoretical  soap-bubble. 

80.  This  is,  as  must  continually  be  emphasized,  the  final  decisive 
religious  motive  (along  with  the  purely  ascetic  desire  to  mortify  the 
flesh).  It  is  especially  clear  in  the  Quakers. 



8i.  Baxter  {Saints'  Everlasting  Rest,  p.  12)  repudiates  this  with 
precisely  the  same  reasoning  as  the  Jesuits:  the  body  must  have 
what  it  needs,  otherwise  one  becomes  a  slave  to  it. 

82.  This  ideal  is  clearly  present,  especially  for  Quakerism,  in  the 
first  period  of  its  development,  as  has  already  been  shown  in  im- 
portant points  by  Weingarten  in  his  Englische  Revolutionskirchen. 
Also  Barclay's  thorough  discussion  {op.  cit.,  pp.  519  ff.,  533)  shows 
it  very  clearly.  To  be  avoided  are:  (i)  Worldly  vanity ;  thus  all  osten- 
tation, frivolity,  and  use  of  things  having  no  practical  purpose,  or 
which  are  valuable  only  for  their  scarcity  (i.e.  for  vanity's  sake). 
(2)  Any  unconscientious  use  of  wealth,  such  as  excessive  expenditure 
for  not  very  urgent  needs  above  necessary  provision  for  the  real  needs 
of  life  and  for  the  future.  The  Quaker  was,  so  to  speak,  a  living  law 
of  marginal  utility.  "Moderate  use  of  the  creature"  is  definitely  per- 
missible, but  in  particular  one  might  pay  attention  to  the  quality 
and  durability  of  materials  so  long  as  it  did  not  lead  to  vanity.  On 
all  this  compare  Morgenblatt  für  gebildete  Leser,  1846,  pp.  216  ff. 
Especially  on  comfort  and  solidity  among  the  Quakers,  compare 
Schneckenburger,  Vorlesungen,  pp.  96  f. 

83.  Adapted  by  Weber  from  Faust,  Act  I.  Goethe  there  depicts 
Mephistopheles  as  "Die  Kraft,  die  stets  das  Böse  will,  und  stets  das 
Gute  schafft". — Translator's  Note. 

84.  It  has  already  been  remarked  that  we  cannot  here  enter  into 
the  question  of  the  class  relations  of  these  religious  movements  (see 
the  essays  on  the  Wirtschaftsethik  der  Weltreligionen).  In  order  to 
see,  however,  that  for  example  Baxter,  of  whom  we  make  so  much 
use  in  this  study,  did  not  see  things  solely  as  a  bourgeois  of  his  time, 
it  will  suflSce  to  recall  that  even  for  him  in  the  order  of  the  religious 
value  of  callings,  after  the  learned  professions  comes  the  husband- 
man, and  only  then  mariners,  clothiers,  booksellers,  tailors,  etc. 
Also,  under  mariners  (characteristically, enough)  he  probably  thinks 
at  least  as  often  of  fishermen  as  of  shipowners.  In  this  regard  several 
things  in  the  Talmud  are  in  a  different  class.  Compare,  for  instance, 
in  Wünsche,  Babyl.  Talmud,  II,  pp.  20,  21,  the  sayings  of  Rabbi 
Eleasar,  which  though  not  unchallenged,  all  contend  in  effect  that 
business  is  better  than  agriculture.  In  between  see  II,  2,  p.  68,  on 
the  wise  investment  of  capital:  one-third  in  land,  one-third  in 
merchandise,  and  one-third  in  cash. 

For  those  to  whom  no  causal  explanation  is  adequate  without  an 
economic  (or  materialistic  as  it  is  unfortunately  still  called)  inter- 
pretation, it  may  be  remarked  that  I  consider  the  influence  of 
economic  development  on  the  fate  of  religious  ideas  to  be  very 
important  and  shall  later  attempt  to  show  how  in  our  case  the  process 
of  mutual  adaptation  of  the  "two  took  place.  On  the  other  haiid,  those 
religious  ideas  themselves  simply  cannot  be  deduced  from  economic 
circumstances.  They  are  in  themselves,  that  is  beyond  doubt,  the 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

most  powerful  plastic  elements  of  national  character,  and  contain  a 
law  of  development  and  a  compelling  force  entirely  their  own. 
Moreover,  the  most  important  differences,  so  far  as  non-religious 
factors  play  a  part,  are,  as  with  Lutheranism  and  Calvinism,  the 
result  of  political  circumstances,  not  economic. 

85.  That  is  what  Eduard  Bernstein  means  to  express  when  he 
says,  in  the  essay  referred  to  above  (pp.  625,  681),  "Asceticism  is  a 
bourgeois  virtue."  His  discussion  is  the  first  which  has  suggested 
these  important  relationships.  But  the  connection  is  a  much  wider 
one  than  he  suspected.  For  not  only  the  accumulation  of  capital,  but 
the  ascetic  rationalization  of  the  whole  of  economic  life  was  involved. 

For  the  American  Colonies,  the  difference  between  the  Puritan 
North,  where,  on  account  of  the  ascetic  compulsion  to  save,  capital 
in  search  of  investment  was  always  available,  from  the  conditions 
in  the  South  has  already  been  clearly  brought  out  by  Doyle. 

86.  Doyle,  The  English  in  America,  II,  chap.  i.  The  existence 
of  iron -works  (1643),  weaving  for  the  market  (1659),  and  also  the 
high  development  of  the  handicrafts  in  New  England  in  the  first 
generation  after  the  foundation  of  the  colonies  are,  from  a  purely 
economic  view-point,  astounding.  They  are  in  striking  contrast  to 
the  conditions  in  the  South,  as  well  as  the  non-Cälvinistic  Rhode 
Island  with  its  complete  freedom  of  conscience.  There,  in  spite  of 
the  excellent  harbour,  the  report  of  the  Governor  and  Council  of 
1686  said:  "The  great  obstruction  concerning  trade  is  the  want 
of  merchants  and  men  of  considerable  estates  amongst  us"  (Arnold, 
History  of  the  State  of  Rhode  Island,  p.  490).  It  can  in  fact  hardly  be 
doubted  that  the  compulsion  continually  to  reinvest  savings,  which 
the  Puritan  curtailment  of  consumption  exercised,  played  a  part.  In 
addition  there  was  the  part  of  Church  discipline  which  cannot  be 
discussed  here. 

87.  That,  however,  these  circles  rapidly  diminished  in  the  Nether- 
lands is  shown  by  Busken-Huet's  discussion  {op.  cit.,  II,  chaps,  iii 
and  iv).  Nevertheless,  Groen  van  Prinsterer  says  {Handb.  der  Gesch. 
van  het  Vaderland,  third  edition,  par.  303,  note,  p.  254),  "De  Neder- 
landers  verkoopen  vtel  en  verbruiken  wenig",  even  of  the  time  after 
the  Peace  of  Westphalia. 

88.  For  England,  for  instance,  a  petition  of  an  aristocratic  Royalist 
(quoted  in  Ranke,  Engl.  Geschichte,  IV,  p.  197)  presented  after  the 
entry  of  Charles  II  into  London,  advocated  a  legal  prohibition  of 
the  acquisition  of  landed  estates  by  bourgeois  capital,  which  should 
thereby  be  forced  to  find  employment  in  trade.  The  class  of  Dutch 
regents  was  distinguished  as  an  estate  from  the  bourgeois  patricians 
of  the  cities  by  the  purchase  of  landed  estates.  See  the  complaints, 
cited  by  Fruin,  Tien  jaren  uit  den  tachtigjarigen  oorlog,  of  the  year 
1652,  that  the  regents  have  become  landlords  and  are  no  longer 
merchants.  To  be  sure  these  circles  had  never  been  at  bottom  strictly 



Calvinistic.  And  the  notorious  scramble  for  membership  in  the 
nobility  and  titles  in  large  parts  of  the  Dutch  middle  class  in  the 
second  half  of  the  seventeenth  century  in  itself  shows  that  at  least 
for  this  period  the  contrast  between  English  and  Dutch  conditions 
must  be  accepted  with  caution.  In  this  case  the  power  of  hereditary 
moneyed  property  broke  through  the  ascetic  spirit. 

89.  Upon  the  strong  movement  for  bourgeois  capital  to  buy 
English  landed  estates  followed  the  great  period  of  prosperity  of 
English  agriculture. 

90.  Even  down  into  this  century  Anglican  landlords  have  often 
refused  to  accept  Nonconformists  as  tenants.  At  the  present  time 
the  two  parties  of  the  Church  are  of  approximately  equal  numbers, 
while  in  earlier  times  the  Nonconformists  were  always  in  the 

91.  H.  Levy  (article  in  Archiv  für  Sozialwissenschaft  und  Sozial- 
politik, XLVI,  p.  605)  rightly  notes  that  according  to  the  native 
character  of  the  English  people,  as  seen  from  numerous  of  its  traits, 
they  were,  if  anything,  less  disposed  to  welcome  an  ascetic  ethic 
and  the  middle-class  virtues  than  other  peoples.  A  hearty  and  un- 
restrained enjoyment  of  life  was,  and  is,  one  of  their  fundamental 
traits.  The  power  of  Puritan  asceticism  at  the  time  of  its  predominance 
is  shown  most  strikingly  in  the  astonishing  degree  to  which  this  trait 
of  character  was  brought  under  discipline  among  its  adherents. 

92.  This  contrast  recurs  continually  in  Doyle's  presentation.  In 
the  attitude  of  the  Puritan  to  everything  the  religious  motive  always 
played  an  important  part  (not  always,  of  course,  the  sole  important 
one).  The  colony  (under  Winthrop's  leadership)  was  inclined  to 
permit  the  settlement  of  gentlemen  in  Massachusetts,  even  an  upper 
house  with  a  hereditary  nobility,  if  only  the  gentlemen  would  adhere 
to  the  Church.  The  colony  remained  closed  for  the  sake  of  Church 
discipline.  The  colonization  of  New  Hampshire  and  Maine  was 
carried  out  by  large  Anglican  merchants,  who  laid  out  large  stock- 
raising  plantations.  Between  them  and  the  Puritans  there  was  very 
little  social  connection.  There  were  complaints  over  the  strong  greed 
for  profits  of  the  New  Englanders  as  early  as  1632  (see  Weeden's 
Economic  and  Social  History  of  New  England,  I,  p.  125). 

93.  This  is  noted  by  Petty  {Pol.  Arith.),  and  all  the  contemporary 
sources  without  exception  speak  in  particular  of  the  Puritan  sectarians, 
Baptists,  Quakers,  Mennonites,  etc.,  as  belonging  partly  to  a  property- 
less  class,  partly  to  one  of  small  capitalists,  and  contrast  them  both 
with  the  great  merchant  aristocracy  and  the  financial  adventurers. 
But  it  was  from  just  this  small  capitalist  class,  and  not  from  the 
great  financial  magnates,  monopolists,  Government  contractors, 
lenders  to  the  King,  colonial  entrepreneurs,  promoters,  etc.,  that 
there  originated  what  was  characteristic  of  Occidental  capitalism :  the 
middle-class  organization  of  industrial  labour  on  the  basis  of  private 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and  the    Spirit   of   Capitalism 

property  (see  Unwin,  Industrial  Organization  in  the  Sixteenth  and 
Seventeenth  Centuries,  London,  1914,  pp.  196  ff.)»  To  see  that  this 
difference  was  fully  known  even  to  contemporaries,  compare  Parker's 
Discourse  Concerning  Puritans  of  164 1,  where  the  contrast  to  promoters 
and  courtiers  is  also  emphasized. 

94.  On  the  way  in  which  this  was  expressed  in  the  politics  of 
Pennsylvania  in  the  eighteenth  century,  especially  during  the  War 
of  Independence,  see  Sharpless,  A  Quaker  Experiment  in  Government, 
Philadelphia,  1902. 

95.  Quoted  in  Southey,  Life  of  Wesley,  chap,  xxix  (second  American 
edition,  II,  p.  308).  For  the  reference,  which  I  did  not  know,  I  am 
indebted  to  a  letter  from  Professor  Ashley  (191 3).  Ernst  Troeltsch,  to 
whom  I  communicated  it  for  the  purpose,  has  already  made  use  of  it. 

96.  The  reading  of  this  passage  may  be  recommended  to  all  those 
who  consider  themselves  to-day  better  informed  on  these  matters 
than  the  leaders  and  contemporaries  of  the  movements  themselves. 
As  we  see,  they  knew  very  well  what  they  were  doing  and  what 
dangers  they  faced.  It  is  really  inexcusable  to  contest  so  lightly,  as 
some  of  my  critics  have  done,  facts  which  are  quite  beyond  dispute, 
and  have  hitherto  never  been  disputed  by  anyone.  All  I  have  done 
is  to  investigate  their  underlying  motives  somewhat  'more  carefully. 
No  one  in  the  seventeenth  century  doubted  the  existence  of  these 
relationships  (compare  Manley,  Usury  of  6  per  Cent.  Examined,  1669, 
p.  137).  Besides  the  modern  writers  already  noted,  poets  like  Heine 
and  Keats,  as  well  as  historians  like  Macaulay,  Cunningham,  Rogers, 
or  an  essayist  such  as  Matthew  Arnold,  have  assumed  them  as 
obvious.  From  the  most  recent  literature  see  Ashley,  Birmingham 
Industry  and  Commerce  (191 3).  He  has  also  expressed  his  complete 
agreement  with  me  in  correspondence.  On  the  whole  problem  now 
compare  the  study  by  H.  Levy  referred  to  above,  note  91. 

97.  Weber's  italics. 

98.  That  exactly  the  same  things  were  obvious  to  the  Puritans  of 
the  classical  era  cannot  perhaps  be  more  clearly  shown  than  by  the 
fact  that  in  Bunyan  Mr.  Money-Love  argues  that  one  may  become 
religious  in  order  to'  get  rich,  for  instance  to  attract  customers.  For 
why  one  has  become  religious  makes  no  difference  (see  p.  114, 
Tauchnitz  edition). 

99.  Defoe  was  a  zealous  Nonconformist. 

100.  Spener  also  {Theologische  Bedenken,  pp.  426,  429,  432  ff.), 
although  he  holds  that  the  merchant's  calling  is  full  of  temptations 
and  pitfalls,  nevertheless  declares  in  answer  to  a  question:  "I  am 
glad  to  see,  so  far  as  trade  is  concerned,  that  my  dear  friend  knows 
no  scruples,  but  takes  it  as  an  art  of  life,  which  it  is,  in  which  much 
good  may  be  done  for  the  human  race,  and  God's  will  may  be  carried 
out  through  love."  This  is  more  fully  justified  in  other  passages  by 
mercantilist  arguments.  Spener,  at  times  in  a  purely  Lutheran  strain, 



designates  the  desire  to  become  rich  as  the  main  pitfall,  following 
I  Tim.  vi,  viii,  and  ix,  and  referring  to  Jesus  Sirach  (see  above), 
and  hence  rigidly  to  be  condemned.  But,  on  the  other  hand,  he 
takes  some  of  it  back  by  referring  to  the  prosperous  sectarians  who 
yet  live  righteously  (see  above,  note  39).  As  the  result  of  industrious 
work  wealth  is  not  objectionable  to  him  either.  But  on  account  of 
the  Lutheran  influence  his  standpoint  is  less  consistent  than  that  of 

loi.  Baxter,  op.  cit.,  II,  p.  16,  warns  against  the  employment  of 
"heavy,  flegmatic,  sluggish,  fleshly,  slothful  persons"  as  servants, 
and  recommends  preference  for  godly  servants,  not  only  because 
ungodly  servants  would  be  mere  eye-servants,  but  above  all  because 
"a  truly  godly  servant  will  do  all  your  service  in  obedience  to  God, 
as  if  God  Himself  had  bid  him  do  it".  Others,  on  the  other  hand, 
are  inclined  "to  make  no  great  matter  of  conscience  of  it".  However, 
the  criterion  of  saintliness  of  the  workman  is  not  for  him  the  external 
confession  of  faith,  but  the  "conscience  to  do  their  duty".  It  appears 
here  that  the  interests  of  God  and  of  the  employers  are  curiously 
harmonious.  Spener  also  (Theologische  Bedenken,  III,  p.  272),  who 
otherwise  strongly  urges  taking  time  to  think  of  God,  assumes  it  to 
be  obvious  that  workers  must  be  satisfied  with  the  extreme  minimum 
of  leisure  time  (even  on  Sundays).  English  writers  have  rightly 
called  the  Protestant  immigrants  the  pioneers  of  skilled  labour.  See 
also  proofs  in  H.  Levy,  Die  Grundlagen  des  ökonomischen  Liberalismus 
in  der  Geschichte  der  englischen  Volkswirtschaft,  p.  53. 

102.  The  analogy  between  the  unjust  (according  to  human 
standards)  predestination  of  only  a  few  and  the  equally  unjust,  but 
equally  divinely  ordained,  distribution  of  wealth,  was  too  obvious  to 
be  escaped.  See  for  example  Hoornbeek,  op.  cit.,  I,  p.  153.  Further- 
more, as  for  Baxter,  op.  cit.,  I,  p.  380,  poverty  is  very  often  a  symptom 
of  sinful  slothfulness. 

103.  Thomas  Adams  {Works  of  the  Puritan  Divines,  p.  158)  thinks 
that  God  probably  allows  so  many  people  to  remain  poor  because 
He  knows  that  they  would  not  be  able  to  withstand  the  temptations 
that  go  with  w^ealth.  For  wealth  all  too  often  draws  men  away  from 

104.  See  above,  note  45,  and  the  study  of  H.  Levy  referred  to  there. 
The  same  is  noted  in  all  the  discussions  (thus  by  Manley  for  the 

105.  Charisma  is  a  sociological  term  coined  by  Weber  himself.  It 
refers  to  the  quality  of  leadership  which  appeals  to  non-rational 
motives.  See  Wirtschaft  und  Gesellschaft,  pp.  140  ff. — Translator's 

106.  Similar  things  were  not  lacking  in  England.  There  was,  for 
example,  that  Pietism  which,  starting  from  Law's  Serious  Call  (172S), 
preached  poverty,  chastity,  and,  originally,  isolation  from  the  world. 

u  281 

The   Protestant   Ethic   and  the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

107.  Baxter's  activity  in  Kidderminster,  a  community  absolutely 
debauched  when  he  arrived,  which  was  almost  unique  in  the  history 
of  the  ministry  for  its  success,  is  at  the  same  time  a  typical  example 
of  how  asceticism  educated  the  masses  to  labour,  or,  in  Marxian 
terms,  to  the  production  of  surplus  value,  and  thereby  for  the  first 
time  made  their  employment  in  the  capitalistic  labour  relation 
(putting-out  industry,  weaving,  etc.)  possible  at  all.  That  is  very 
generally  the  causal  relationship.  From  Baxter's  own  view-point  he 
accepted  the  employment  of  his  charges  in  capitalistic  production 
for  the  sake  of  his  religious  and  ethical  interests.  From  the  standpoint 
of  the  development  of  capitalism  these  latter  were  brought  into  the 
service  of  the  development  of  the  spirit  of  capitalism. 

108.  Furthermore,  one  may  well  doubt  to  what  extent  the  joy  of 
the  mediaeval  craftsman  in  his  creation,  which  is  so  commonly 
appealed  to,  was  effective  as  a  psychological  motive  force.  Never- 
theless, there  is  undoubtedly  something  in  that  thesis.  But  in  any  case 
asceticism  certainly  deprived  all  labour  of  this  worldly  attractiveness, 
to-day  for  ever  destroyed  by  capitalism,  and  oriented  it  to  the 
beyond.  Labour  in  a  calling  as  such  is  willed  by  God.  The  im- 
personality of  present-day  labour,  what,  from  the  standpoint  of  the 
individual,  is  its  joyless  lack  of  meaning,  still  has  a  religious  justifi- 
cation here.  Capitalism  at  the  time  of  its  development  needed 
labourers  who  were  available  for  economic  exploitation  for  conscience' 
sake.  To-day  it  is  in  the  saddle,  and  hence  able  to  force  people  to 
labour  without  transcendental  sanctions. 

109.  Petty,  Political  Arithmetick,  Works,  edited  by  Hull,  I,  p.  262. 
no.  On  these  conflicts  and  developments  see  H.  Levy  in  the  book 

cited  above.  The  very  powerful  hostility  of  public  opinion  to 
monopolies,  which  is  characteristic  of  England,  originated  historically 
in  a  combination  of  the  political  struggle  for  power  against  the 
Crown — the  Long  Parliament  excluded  monopolists  from  its  member- 
ship— with  the  ethical  motives  of  Puritanism;  and  the  economic 
interests  of  the  small  bourgeois  and  moderate -scale  capitalists  against 
the  financial  magnates  in  the  seventeenth  century.  The  Declaration 
of  the  Army  of  August  2,  1652,  as  well  as  the  Petition  of  the  Levellers 
of  January  28,  1653,  demand,  besides  the  abolition  of  excises,  tariffs, 
and  indirect  taxes,  and  the  introduction  of  a  single  tax  on  estates, 
above  all  free  trade,  i.e.  the  abolition  of  the  monopolistic  barriers  to 
trade  at  home  and  abroad,  as  a  violation  of  the  natural  rights  of  man. 

111.  Compare  H.  Levy,  Die  Grundlagen  des  ökonomischen  Liberal- 
ismus in  der  Geschichte  der  englischen  Volkswirtschaft,  pp.  5 1  f . 

112.  That  those  other  elements,  which  have  here  not  yet  been 
traced  to  their  religious  roots,  especially  the  idea  that  honesty  is  the 
best  policy  (Franklin's  discussion  of  credit),  are  also  of  Puritan 
origin,  must  be  proved  in  a  somewhat  different  connection  (see  the 
following  essay  [not  translated  here]).  Here  I  shall  limit  myself  to 



repeating  the  following  remark  of  J.  A.  Rowntree  {Quakerism,  Past 
and  Present,  pp.  95-6),  to  which  E.  Bernstein  has  called  my  atten- 
tion: "Is  it  merely  a  coincidence,  or  is  it  a  conseqtience,  that  the 
lofty  profession  of  spirituality  made  by  the  Friends  has  gone  hand 
in  hand  with  shrewdness  and  tact  in  the  transaction  of  mundane 
affairs?  Real  piety  favours  the  success  of  a  trader  by  insuring  his 
integrity  and  fostering  habits  of  prudence  and  forethought,  im- 
portant items  in  obtaining  that  standing  and  credit  in  the  commercial 
world,  which  are  requisites  for  the  steady  accumulation  of  wealth" 
(see  the  following  essay).  "Honest  as  a  Huguenot"  was  as  proverbial 
in  the  seventeenth  century  as  the  respect  for  law  of  the  Dutch  which 
Sir  W.  Temple  admired,  and,  a  century  later,  that  of  the  English  as 
compared  with  those  Continental  peoples  that  had  not  been  through 
this  ethical  schooling. 

113.  Well  analysed  in  Bielschowsky's  Goethe,  \l,  chap,  xviii.  For 
the  development  of  the  scientific  cosmos  Windelband,  at  the  end  of 
his  Blütezeit  der  deutschen  Philosophie  (Vol.  H  of  the  Gesch.  d.  Neueren 
Philosophie),  has  expressed  a  similar  idea. 

114.  Saints'  Everlasting  Rest,  chap.  xii. 

115.  "Couldn't  the  old  man  be  satisfied  with  his  $75,000  a  year 
and  rest?  No!  The  frontage  of  the  store  must  be  widened  to  400  feet. 
Why?  That  beats  everything,  he  says.  In  the  evening  when  his  wife 
and  daughter  read  together,  he  wants  to  go  to  bed.  Sundays  he  looks 
at  the  clock  every  five  minutes  to  see  when  the  day  will  be  over — 
what  a  futile  life!"  In  these  terms  the  son-in-law  (who  had  emigrated 
from  Germany)  of  the  leading  dry-goods  man  of  an  Ohio  city 
expressed  his  judgment  of  the  latter,  a  judgment  which  would  un- 
doubtedly have  seemed  simply  incomprehensible  to  the  old  man.  A 
symptom  of  German  lack  of  energy. 

116.  This  remark  alone  (unchanged  since  his  criticism)  might 
have  shown  Brentano  {op.  cit.)  that  I  have  never  doubted  its  inde- 
pendent significance.  That  humanism  was  also  not  pure  rationalism 
has  lately  again  been  strongly  emphasized  by  Borinski  in  the  Abfiandl. 
der  Münchener  Akad.  der  Wiss.,  191 9. 

117.  The  academic  oration  of  v.  Below,  Die  Ursachen  der  Refor- 
mation (Freiburg,  1916),  is  not  concerned  with  this  problem,  but 
with  that  of  the  Reformation  in  general,  especially  Luther.  For  the 
question  dealt  with  here,  especially  the  controversies  which  have 
grown  out  of  this  study,  I  may  refer  finally  to  the  work  of  Hermelink, 
Reformation  und  Gegenreformation,  which,  however,  is  also  primarily 
concerned  with  other  problems. 

118.  For  the  above  sketch  has  deHberately  taken  up  only  the 
relations  in  which  an  influence  of  religious  ideas  on  the  material 
culture  is  really  beyond  doubt.  It  would  have  been  easy  to  proceed 
beyond  that  to  a  regular  construction  which  logically  deduced 
everything  characteristic  of  modern  culture  from  Protestant  rational- 


The   Protesta?jt   Ethic   afid   the    Spirit   of   Capitalism 

ism.  But  that  sort  of  thing  may  be  left  to  the  type  of  dilettante  who 
believes  in  the  unity  of  the  group  mind  and  its  reducibility  to  a 
single  formula.  Let  it  be  remarked  only  that  the  period  of  capitalistic 
development  lying  before  that  which  we  have  studied  was  every- 
where in  part  determined  by  religious  influences,  both  hindering  and 
helping.  Of  what  sort  these  were  belongs  in  another  chapter.  Further- 
more, whether,  of  the  broader  problems  sketched  above,  one  or 
another  can  be  dealt  with  in  the  limits  of  this  Journal  [the  essay  first 
appeared  in  the  Archiv  für  Sozialwissenschaft  und  Sozialpolitik — 
Translator's  Note]  is  not  certain  in  view  of  the  problems  to  which 
it  is  devoted.  On  the  other  hand,  to  write  heavy  tomes,  as  thick  as 
they  would  have  to  be  in  this  case,  and  dependent  on  the  work  of 
others  (theologians  and  historians),  I  have  no  great  inclination  (I 
have  left  these  sentences  unchanged). 

For  the  tension  between  ideals  and  reality  in  early  capitalistic 
times  before  the  Reformation,  see  now  Strieder,  Studien  zur  Ges- 
chichte der  kapit.  Organizationsformen,  1914,  Book  II.  (Also  as  against 
the  work  of  Keller,  cited  above,  which  was  utilized  by  Sombart.) 

119.  I  should  have  thought  that  this  sentence  and  the  remarks  and 
notes  immediately  preceding  it  would  have  sufficed  to  prevent  any 
misunderstanding  of  what  this  study  was  meant  to  accomplish,  and 
I  find  no  occasion  for  adding  anything.  Instead  of  following  up  with 
an  immediate  continuation  in  terms  of  the  above  programme,  I 
have,  partly  for  fortuitous  reasons,  especially  the  appearance  of 
Troeltsch's  Die  Soziallehren  der  christlichen  Kirchen  und  Gruppen, 
which  disposed  of  many  things  I  should  have  had  to  investigate  in 
a  way  in  which  I,  not  being  a  theologian,  could  not  have  done  it; 
but  partly  also  in  order  to  correct  the  isolation  of  this  study  and  to 
place  it  in  relation  to  the  whole  of  cultural  development,  determined, 
first,  to  write  down  some  comparative  studies  of  the  general  historical 
relationship  of  religion  and  society.  These  follow.  Before  them  is 
placed  only  a  short  essay  in  order  to  clear  up  the  concept  of  sect 
used  above,  and  at  the  same  time  to  show  the  significance  of  the 
Puritan  conception  of  the  Church  for  the  capitalistic  spirit  of  modern 



absolution,  sacrament  of,  1 16,  134 
acquisition,  as  principle  of  econo- 
mic action,  63 
acquisition,  impulse  to,  16,  56 
Adams,  Thomas,  223,  237,  258, 
259,  266,  267,  269,  272,  281 
adaptation,  72 

(see  selection) 
adiaphora,  256,  274 
administration,  25 
adventurers,  capitalistic,  20,  24, 
58,   69,   76,   166,   174,    186, 
199,  279 
after-life,  idea  of,  97,  109 
Alberti,  Leon  Battista,  194,  202, 

Anglican  Church,  82,  99,  179 
Anthony  of  Florence,  73,  83,  197, 

201, 202 
anthropology,  30 
Anti-authoritarianism,  167 

{see  also  asceticism) 
architecture,  in  West,  15 
aristocracy,  antagonism  to,  150 
aristocracy,  commerical,  37,  65,  74 
Aristotle,  14,  235,  244,  249 
Arminians,  200,  217 
Arnold,  Matthew,  191,  280 
Arnold,  Samuel  G.,  278 
art  in  West,  14 
Arte  di  Calimala,  203 
arts,  Puritan  attitude  to,  168,  272 
asceticism,  an  ti -authoritarian,  ten- 
dency of,  167,  255 
asceticism,  definition  of,  193-4 
asceticism,    monastic,    80,    121, 

asceticism,  sexual,  158 
asceticism,  tendency  of  capitalism 

to,  71 
asceticism,  types  of,  118 
asceticism,  worldly,  149,  154 
Ashley,  W.  J.,  280 

Augsburg  Confession,   102,  206, 

Augustine,  St.,  loi 
Aymon,  Jean,  190 

Bailey,  R.,  106,    129,    132,    222, 

228,    231,    233,    238,    245, 

Baird,  Henry  M.,  219 
Bank  of  England,  186 
baptism,  145,  222 
Barclay,  Robert,   148,   156,   171, 

252,  257, 269 
Barebones,  Praisegod,  243 
Bartholomew's  day,  St.,  156 
Bax,  E.  Belfort,  253 
Baxter,  Richard,   106,   155,   181, 

218,  224,  226  flf.,  245,  259  flF. 
Becker,  Bernhard,  247 
begging,  177,  268 
believers'  church,  122,  144 

{see  also  sect) 
Below,  Georg  von,  283 
Benedict,  St.,  118 
Bernhard,  St.,  230,  236,  238,  241, 

Bernhard  of  Siena,  197,  201,  202 
Bernstein,  Eduard,  219,  256,  258, 

278,  283 
Berthold  of  Regensburg,  208 
Beruf,  79,  204  ff. 
Beruf,  translation  of,  194 
Beza,  Theodore,  iio,  230 
bibliocracy,  123,  146 
Bielschowsky,  Albert,  283 
Bohemian  Brothers,  197 
Bonaventura,  St.,  236,  242,  267 
Bonn,  M.  J.,  217 
book-keeping,  22,  67 
book-keeping,  moral,  124,  238 
Borinski,  Karl,  283 
bourgeoisie,  23,  24,  176 
Brassey,  Thomas,  198 


The   Protestant    Ethic   and   the    Spirit   of  Capitalism 

Braune,  Wilhelm,  207 
Brentano,  Lujo,   185,   187,   190, 

192,  193,  194,  198,  205,  209, 

210,  217,  259,  283 
Brodnitz,  Georg,  203 
brotherly  love,  81,  108,  163,  226 
Brown,  John,  219 
Browne,  John,  243 
Bryce,  James,  235,  268 
Bucer,  letter  to,  228 
Buckle,  Henry  Thomas,  44 
Buddhism,  228 
Bunyan,  John, 107, 124, 176, 223, 

227,  230,  234,  259,  271,  280 
Busken-Huet,  274,  278 
Butler,  Samuel,  168 

Caesarism,  Puritan  immunity  to, 

calling,  duty  in  a,  54,  62 

calling,  idea  of,  79  ff. 

Calvin,  John,  45,  89 
and  predestination,  102 
attitude  to  certitudo  salutis,  no 
attitude  toward  wealth,  157 

Calvinism,  social  organization  of, 

Calw,  44 

Campbell,  Douglas,  218 

Carlyle,  Thomas,  37,  214,  219 

capital,  definition  of,  17 

capital,  origin  of,  68 

capital,  ownership  of,  36 

capitalism,  concept  of,  16 

Cato,  19s,  201 

Cavaliers,  88,  169 

certitudo  salutis,  no,  114-15,  129, 
r33,  139-40,  203.  226,  229, 

charisma,  178,  281 

Charles  I,  166 

Charnock,  Stuart,  231,  232,  235, 
238,  259 

Chillingworth,  William,  127 

chosen  people,  belief  in,  166 
(see  also  elect) 


Christopher,  Duke  of  Würtem- 

berg,  268 
Cicero,  205 
Cistercians,  118 
Cluny,  Monks  of,  118 
Colbert,  Jean  Baptiste,  43 
Columella,  196 
comfort,  idea  of,  171 
commenda,  17,  20,  58 
Communion,  admission  to,  in, 

155  . 
confession,    106,    124,    134,   137, 

confessions,  Baptist,  231 

(see    also     Dordrecht,     West- 

munster,    Augsburg,    Han- 

serd  Knolly) 
Congregationalists,  217 
consilia  evangelica,  80,  120,  137 
contemplation,  26,  H2,  158,  159, 

conventicles,  130,  131,  167,  245 
conversion,  140 
Corinthians,    ist   Epistle   to  the, 

84,  164,  206,  208,  214 
Cornelius,  Carl  Adolf,  253,  255 
counterpoint,  14 
Court,  Peter  de  la,  177 
Cramer,  S.,  257 
Cranmer,  Thomas,  210 
creation,  joy  of,  282 
Cromwell,  Oliver,  82,  156,  213, 

226,  275 
Cromwell,  Richard,  251 
Crosby,  Thomas,  235 
Cunningham,  William,  280 

Da  Costa,  226 

Defoe,  Daniel,  180,  ä8o 

Deissmann,  Adolf,  209 

democracy,  224 

Denifle,  Heinrich,  211 

Deventer,   Provincial    Synod   of, 

Dexter,  H.  M.,  219,  252,  274 
Dieterich,  A.,  205 


dilettantes,  29 

Dionysius  of  Halicarnassus,  209 
Dippel,  Johann  Conrad,  248 
discipline.  Church,  97,  152,  155, 

«    discipline,  monastic,  174 

distribution   of   goods,   unequal, 

Divine  Comedy,  87 
DöUinger,  Johann  Joseph  Iquaz 

von,  107 
domestic  industry,  21,  192 
'if     Dordrecht,    Synod   of,    99,    102, 

226,  240 
Dowden,  Edward,  176,  221,  222, 

258,  270, 275 
Doyle,  John  Andrew,   172,  219, 

Dunckards,  150 

Eck  Bible  translation,  10 

Economic  interpretation  of  His- 
tory {see  Materialism,  his- 

education  and  capitalism,  38 

Eger,  Karl,  211 

elect,  aristocracy  of,  104,  121, 
122,  131-8,  151,  242 

elect,  membership  in,  no 

emotion,  emphasis  on,  131,  135 

Enlightenment,  The,  45,  70,  106 

Entzauberung  der  Welt,  221 
{see  also  magic,  elimination  of) 

Erastianism,  2x7 

d'Este,  Renata,  237 

Ethnography,  29 

experiment,  method  of,  1 3 

faith,  justification  by,  112,  114 
faith,  results  of,  114 

{see  also  proof) 
fatalism,  131,  232 
feudal  state,  16 
feudalism,  185 

Fieschi,  235 

Firth,  Charles  Harding,  219,  236 
Fleischiitz,  Bible  translator,  207 
formalism,    as    characteristic    of 

Puritanism,  166 
Fox,  George,  89,  146,  148,  253, 

Francis  of  Assissi,  120,  146,  254 
Franciscans,  253 
Franck,  Sebastian,  121,  220 
Francke,  August  Hermann,  132- 

3,  138,  246 
Franklin,  Benjamin,  48,  50,  64, 

71,  82,  124,  151,  158,  .i8o, 

192,  19s,  263 
Frederick,     Henry,     Stadholder, 

Frederick  William  I,  44,  250 
Freytag,  Gustav,  242 
Froude,  James  Anthony,  223 
Fruin,  Robert,  219,  278 
Fugger,  Jacob,  51,  192 
Fuggers,  82,  202,  213 
Fuller,  Thomas,  231 
Funck,  201 

Gardiner,  Samuel  Rawson,  213, 

219,  272 
Gerhard,  Johannes,  229 
Gerhard,  Paul,  88 
Giles,  St.,  146 
God,   Calvinistic   conception   of, 

Goethe,  Wolfgang,  151,  181,  261, 

Goodwin,  John,  246 
Gorichem,  Synod  of,  260 
Gothein,  Eberhard,  43 
Grab,  Hermann  von,  222 
Grubbe,  Edward,  253 

Haller,  Albertus,  274 
Hals,  Frans,  273 
handicrafts,  21,  38,  65 
Hanna,  C.  A.,  189 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and   the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

Hanserd  Knolly,  Confession  of, 
125,  220,  221,  225,  231,  257 

harmony,  14 

Harnack,  Adolf,  262 

Hasbach,  Wilhelm,  198 

Hebrews,  265 
{see  Jews) 

Heidegger,  Johann  Heinrich,  228 

Heine,  Heinrich,  280 

Hellpach,  W.,  244 

Henry,  Matthew,  238,  259,  261 

Heppe,    Heinrich    Ludwig,    221, 
228,  247 

heredity,  influence  of,  30,  279 

Hermelink,  Heinrich,  283 

Hermhut,  135,  248 

Hertling,  Georg  von,  188 

historical  individual,  47 

Hoenicke,  238 

Hoffmann,  255 

honesty,  best  policy,  282 

Honigsheim,  Paul,  212,  222,  226, 

Hooker,  Richard,  127 

Hoops,  Johannes,  207 

Hoornbeek,  J.,  221,  223,  228,  232, 

Howe,  Daniel  Wait,  219 
Howe,  John,  237,  251,  259 
Hudibras,  235 

{see  also  Bulter) 
Hugenots,  39,  43,  201 
Humiliati,  254 

Hundeshagen,  Carl  Bernhard,  226 
Huntingdon,  Lady,  125 
Huss,  John,  95,  198 
Hutchinson,  Colonel  John,  275 
Huyghens,  Constantine,  274 

ideal  type,  71,  98,  200 

idolatry  of    the  flesh,   105,    146, 

150,  169,  171,  224,  266,  270, 

Ignatius,  St.,  119 
Independents,  99,  122,  217,  242 
India,  religious  teaching  of,  265 


individualism,  105,  222 
indulgence,  120 
industria,  73,  196,  197 
inner  light,  doctrine  of,  147 
institution  for  salvation,  church 

as,  227 
interest,  prohibition  of,  73,  201 
interests,  capitalistic,  influence  of, 

Irving,  Washington,  261,  275 
isolation ,of  individual,  108 

Jacoby,  Ludwig  S.,  250 

Jains,  191,  197,  228 

James  I,  99,  166 

James,  William,  232 

Janeway,  James,  259,  268 

Jansenists,  221,  222,  229 

Jaspers,  Karl,  186 

Jerome,  St.,  205 

Jesuits,  81,   118,   124,  267,  274, 

Jesus ,  Jx. —N 

/Jews  as  minorities,  39,  191 
news     as     representing     adven- 
I         turer's  capitalism,  186,  271 

Jews,  problem  of,  187,  197 

Jews,  Puritans'  relation  to,  165, 

Jews,  rationalization  of,  117,  222  / 
ob.  Book  of,  164 

Jones,  Ruf  us  B.,  253 

joy  of  living,  41,  42,  45 

joy  of  living,   relation   of  Puri- 
tanism to,  163,  166-7, 173 

Judaism  {see  Jews) 

Jülicher,  A.,  214 

Jüngst,  Johannes,  251 

Kampschulte,  F.  Wilhelm,  218 
Kant,  Immanuel,  270 
Kattenbusch,  Ferdinand,  255 
Kautsky,  Karl,  258 
Keats,  John,  44,  270 
Keller,  F.,  191,  200,  284 
Keller,  Gottfried,  107 


Kierkegaard,  Soren,  109 

Klages,  Ludwig,  186 

de  Kock,  226 

Knolley,  Hanserd   {see  Hanserd 

»      Knox,  John,  45,  219 
Koehler,  Walther,  211 
Koester,  A.,  211 
Köhler,  August,  219,  226,  247, 

Kolde,  Theodor,  251 
Kommanditgesellschaft,  20 
Köstlin,  Julius,  221 
Kürnberger,  Ferdinand,  50 

Labadie,  Jean  de,  240,  241,  245 

laboratory,  modern,  13 

labour,  division  of^_8i^6o,  161 
/labour,  rational,   capitälTstic'^r- 
*• — ^-^^amzation  of,  21,  22,  24,  166 

labour,  valuation  of,  158 

Lambeth  Article,  220 

Lamprecht,  Karl,  244,  248 

Lang,  J.  C,  252 

Laud,  Bishop  William,  179,  213 

Lavelye,  ßmile,  191 

law,  canon,  14,  73 

law,  mosaic,  123,  165,  2  j i. 

law,  natural  {see  lex  natures) 

law,  rational  structure  of,  25 

law,  Roman,  14,  77 

Lenau,  Nicolaus,  192 

Leonard,  Ellen  M.,  268 

Levy,    Hermann,  213,  217,  268, 
279, 281, 282 

lex  naturce,  109,  114,   211,   256, 

liberum  arbitrium,  57,  77 

Liguori,  Alfonso  of,  107 

literature,  Puritan  attitude  to,  168 

Lobstein,  Paul,  229 

Lodensteyn,  Jodocus  van,  241 

Loofs,  Friedrich,  250,  252 

Lorimer,  G.,  253 

Löscher,  Valentine  Ernest,  246 

Luthardt,  Christoph  Ernst,  214 

Luther,   use   of  "calling,"    164, 

204  ff. 
Lutheranism,  ethical   theory  of, 

Lutheranism,  moral  helplessness 

of,  126 
Lutheranism,  relation  to  Pietism, 


Lutheranism,  relation  to  world, 
87, 160 

Lutheranism,  traditionalistic  ten- 
dency of,  86 

Lutheranism  and  Predestination, 


Macaulay,    Thomas    Babington, 

219,  220,  223, 280 
Machiavelli,  Nicolo,  14,  107 
magic,  elimination  of,  105,  117, 

Magna  Charta,  217 
Maliniak,  J.,  200 
Manley,  Thomas,  280 
manors,  21 
Marcks,  Erich,  218 
marriage,  Puritan  conception  of, 

158, 263 
masserizia,  195 
Masson,  David,  219,  220 
materialism,    historical,    24,    55, 

75,  90-2, 183, 266, 277 
Maurenbrecher,  Max,  211 
Maurice  of  Orange,  235 
Meissner,  Balthasar,  229 
Melancthon,    Philip,    102,    227, 

239, 244 
Menno,  Simons,  89,  145 
Mennonites,  44,  144,    149,    150, 

217, 255, 256, 257 
mercantilism,  23,  152,  197,  242 
Merx,  Albrecht,  203,  204,  208 
Milton,  John,  87,  loi,  220,  267 
minorities,  39,  190 
Mirbt,  Carl,  242 
missionary,  136,  225 
monasti  ism,  118,  119,  158,  174 


The   Protestant   Ethic   and  the   Spirit   of  Capitalism 

money-lenders,  20 
monopolies,  65,  82,  179,  271 
Montesquieu,  Charles  Louis  de, 

Moravians,  96,  135 
Mormons,  264 
Motley,  John  Lothrop,  219 
Müller,  Karl,  219,  253,  255 
Münster,  149,  253 
Murch,  J.,  253 
music,  14 
Muthmann,  223 
mystics,  German,  79,  86,  112,  132 

Naber,  219 
Neal,  David,  235 
needs,  satisfaction  of,  63 
Neumann,  Carl,  273,  275 
Newman,  A.  H.,  253 
Nicklaes,  Hendrik,  269 
Nicolai,  Philip,  229 
Nietzsche,  Friedrich,  232 
Nuyens,  W.  J.  F.,  219,  221 

official,  16 

OflFenbacher,  Martin,  188 

oikos,  22 

Old  Testament,  123 

Oldenbarneveld,  Joan  van,  99 

Olevianus,  J<aspar,  221,  228 

organization,  capitalistic  forms  of, 

organization.  Church,  128 
organization,  social,  superiority  of 

Calvinism  in,  108 
orphans,  Amsterdam,  226 
ostentation,  avoidance  of,  71 
otherworldliness,  40,  41,  42,  118, 

Owen,  John,  237 

Parker,  179 

Parsees,  191 

parvenus,  65,  71,  163, 268 

Pascal,  Blaise,  81,  113,  211    222, 

227, 229 
Paterson,  William,  i86  / 


Paul,  St.,  84,  159,  160,  212 
Petty,  Sir  William,  43,  179,  189, 

279, 282 
piece-rates,  59 
Pierson,  Allard,  219 
Pietism,  42 
Plitt,  Hermann, "247 
Plutarch,  236 
Polenz,  Gottlob  van,  219 
Poor  relief,  English,  178 
poverty,  glorification  of,  136 
Praetorius,  Abdias,  229 
Praxis  pietatis,  129,  130 
precisians,  117 
predestination,  doctrine  of,  98  fF., 

i09iT.,   121,   125,   128,   131, 
\^       143,148,226,227,232 
Presbyterians,  125,  146 
Price,  Thomas,  219 
Prinsterer,  Groen  van,  219,  274, 

printing,  15 
privileges,  65 
profitableness,  as  sign  of  grace, 

proletariat,  25 
proof,  doctrine  of,  112,  115,  126, 

129,     133,     137,     141,     142, 

Prynne,  William,  179,  269 
psychology,    in    sociological    in- 
vestigation, 31,  244 
Puritanism,  attitude  to  sensuous 

culture,  105 
Puritanism,  definition  of,  96 
putting-out  system,  23,  66,  179 

Quakers,  39,  44,  86,  144  ff.,  150, 
{see  also  Barclay,  Robert) 

Rabelais,  Frangois,  190 
Rachfel,  Felix,  i86 
Ranke,  Leopold  von,  210 
nraribnalism,  2^740,  75    \ 
(see  also  rationalization)^ 


rationalization,  25,  68,  136,  147 
{see    also    rationalism ;    rn^gic, 

elimination  of )    -""" 
"  Rembrandt7i69,  273 
Rer»aissance,  Puritan  relation  to, 

Rhodes,  Cecil,  42 
Ritschl,  Albrecht,  134,  139,  219, 

221,  229,  237,  240,  245, 247, 

Rogers,  Thorold,  280 
Roloff,  Gustav,  235 
romanticism,  71 
romanticists,  65 
Roosevelt,  Theodore,  269 
Roundheads,  88 
Rowntree,  J.  A.,  283 

Sack,  Carl  Heinrich,  219 
sacraments,  104 
Salmasius,  Claudius,  201 
salvation,  conditions  of,  113 
sanctification,  138,  140 
sanctions,  psychological,  97,  128, 

178,  197, 267 
Sanford,  John  Langton,  123,  217, 

saving,    ascetic    compulsion    to, 

172, 276 
Savoy  Declaration,  114,  125,  231 
Schäfer,  Dietrich,  222 
Schechter,  Solomon,  204 
Scheibe,  Max,  221 
Schell,  Hermann,  188 
SchmoUer,  Gustav,  214 
Schneckenburger,  Matthias,  112, 

143,  214,  219,  228, 230, 232, 

Scholasticism,  83,  168 

{see  also  Thomas  Aquinas) 
Schortinghuis,   Wilhelmus,    229, 

Schulze-Gaevemitz,  G.  von,  198 
Schwenkfeld,  Caspar,  146,  256 
science,  Puritan  attitude  to,  168, 


science.    Western    characteristics 

of,  13,  15,  24 
Scotists,  202 
Scotus,  Duns,  235 
sea  loans,  20 

sect,  distinguished  from  church, 
145,  152,254 
{see  also  believers'  church) 
Sedgwick,    Obadiah,    228,    231, 

Söe,  Henri,  185 

Seeberg,  211,  214,  215,  219,  235 
Seiss,  J.  A.,  253 
selection,  concept  of,  55,  72 
Seneca,  205 
Septuagint,  204 
Sermon  on  the  Mount,  250 
Shakespeare,  William,  274 
Simmel,  Georg,  185,  193 
Sirach,  Jesus,  79,  164,  204  ff, 
Skeats,  Herbert  S.,  252 
Skoptsi,  197 
Sloth,  264 
Smend,  Rudolf,  204 
Smith,  Adam,  81,  161 
socialism,  23 
Sombart,  Werner,  63,   75,    185, 

187,  191,  192,  193-8,  200  ff., 

214,  217,  259,  261,  271,  276 
South  Sea  Bubble,  186 
Southey,  Robert,  251,  280 
Spangenberg,  A.  G.,  136,223,248 
Spener,  Philip  Jacob,  95,  132-5, 

138,  150,  156,222,245,  247, 

257, 262, 266 
Spinoza,  Baruch  de,  245 
Sports,  Book  of,  166 
St.  Andre,  Dupin  de,  190 
State,  characteristics  of,  179 
State,  modern,  16,  72 
Sternberg,  H.  von,  214 
Strieder,  Jacob,  284 
Stundists,  197 

talents,  parable  of  the,  163 
Talmud,  83,  165,  207,  270,  277 


The   Protestant  Ethic  and  the   Spirit  of  Capitalism 

Tauler,  Johannes,  86,  208,  212, 

216,  229,  236,  24s 
Taylor,  Hudson,  225 
Taylor,  J.  J.,  219 
Teellinck,  W.,  241 
Teersteegen,  245 
Terminism,  doctrine  of,  133 
theodicy  problem,  109 
Theophylaktos,  209 
Tholuck,  A.,  240 
Thomas,  Alton  C,  253 
Thomas  Aquinas,   St.,   80,   150, 

159,    160,    196,    211,    215, 

Thomas  ä  Kempis,  St.,  242,  245 
Thucydides,  14 
time  is  money,  48,  158 
Time,  waste  of,  157 
toleration,  idea  of,  242 
traditionalism,   36,   59  ff.,   65  fr., 

76,  84,  164,  191,  215,  265, 

Troeltsch,  Ernst,  i88,  211,  214, 


Tyerman,  Luke,  251 
Tyermans,  218 
Tyndale,  William,  210 

Ullrich,  F.,  227,  240 
uniformity,  tendency  toward,  169 
unio  mysHca,  112,  113,  130 
Unwin,  George,  280 
utilitarianism,  52,  81,  109,  126, 

161,176,  183,  196,265 
utilitarianism,  hygienic,  263 

Van  Wyck,  A.,  227 

value,  judgments  of,  29,  98,  112, 

182,  236 
Varro,  196 

Veblen,  Thorstein,  258,  275 
Vedder,  Henry  C,  253 
Vischer,  F.  T.,  247 
Voet,  Gisbert,  45,  218,  234,  241, 


Voltaire,  77 
Vol  gate,  205 

wages  and  productivity,  60,  198 

Wagner,  Richard,  107 

Wahl,  Adalbert,  191 

waiting  for  Spirit,  148 

Ward,  Frank  G.,  214 

Warneck,  Johannes,  225 

Watson,  Richard,  251 

Watts,  Isaac,  251 

wealth,  temptations  of,  156,  172, 

wealth,  uses  approved  by  Puri- 
tans, 171 
Weingarten,  H.,  219,  277 
Wesley,  John,  89,  125,  135,  140, 

142,  175,218,227,251 
Westminster  Confession,  99,  220, 

228, 244 
Westminster,  Synod  of,  99,  102, 

156, 226 
Whitaker,  W.,  242 
White,  G.,  246,  268 
Whitefield,  George,  125,  251 
William  of  Orange,  242 
Williams,  Roger,  243 
Windelband,  Wilhelm,  236,  249, 

Wiskemann,  Heinrich,  214 
Wittich,  W.,  190 
Wolff,  Christian,  263 
workers,  women,  62 
workSj.^odj^£iS,  117,  148 
workSjSaivatiorrEy .  1 1  ■; .  1 1 6 .  141, 

143, 150 
Wupperthal,  44 
Wyclif,  John,  198,  203,  210 

Xenophon,  196 

Zeller,  226 

Zinzendorf,  Count  Nicolaus,  95, 

132,  134,  138,  143,  178.248, 

Zwingli,  Ullrich,  87 
Zwinglianism,  217 

University  of  California  Library 
Los  Angeles 

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